My Happy Face wins the Tempted Stakes.
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My Happy Face wins the Tempted Stakes.
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Coglianese Photos

My Happy Face Earns Nod in Tense Tempted

Frizette runner-up edges determined Cue the Moon at Aqueduct Nov. 4.

In a juvenile filly stakes worthy of Breeders' Cup weekend, My Happy Face nipped Cue the Moon by a neck in the $142,500 Tempted (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack Nov. 4 (VIDEO).

In unusual twist to the autumn lidlifter, Spendthrift Farm bred the winner along with Shawhan Place and also owns the runner-up.

The odds-on favorite in the four-horse field, Frizette (gr. I) runner-up My Happy Face was ridden to victory by Ramon Dominguez for trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owner Michael Dubb.

“Our filly is very, very game, and we were very lucky," Rodriguez said. "Ramon gave her a good ride. She didn’t get a breather and the two horses stayed together. It was hard, but she ran very good. I thought it was going to be an easy race, but it came up tougher than we expected.”

My Happy Face displayed admirable grittiness while racing along the rail. She refused to allow an equally determined Cue the Moon to get by her for virtually the entire length of the one-mile trip. The little gray filly showed the same resilience in the Oct. 6 Frizette at Belmont Park. But she lost that race by a head to Dreaming of Julia, recent third-place finisher in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

The winner was timed in 1:36.32 for the one-turn mile on a fast Aqueduct main track, following quarter mile fractions of :22.48, :44.87, and 1:09.78.

"Our filly was extremely fast out of the gate. She didn’t get any breather today, but being on the inside when (Cue the Moon) went to press me, I really had no choice," Dominguez said. "It was a pretty good battle turning for home. The other filly didn’t give up and neither did mine.”

Two scratches, morning line favorite Emollient and Kimono, created match-race like conditions for the first two fillies, who raced as a team throughout. It was 6 1/4 lengths back to third-place finisher Ruby Lips. Unabashed was last. My Happy Face paid $2.60 and $2.10. Cue the Moon returned $2.60. The $2 exacta was worth $5.

My Happy Face, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Tiz Wonderful out of the stakes-winning Siberian Summer mare Summer Star, cost $35,000 as a Keeneland September yearling last year. She has two wins and two seconds from four starts, including an eye-opening 21 1/4-length maiden victory in her second outing Aug. 31 at Saratoga Race Course. My Happy Face has earned $234,000.

Rodriguez said there are no immediate plans for My Happy Face.

"We’re just going to enjoy this one, and hopefully she’ll keep improving," he said. "We’ll talk to Michael Dubb and see what he wants to do, but she’s a game filly. We were thinking about going to California (for the Breeders’ Cup), but I think we did the right thing by staying here, because they ran very, very big over there.”

Cue the Moon, who was ridden by Jose Lezcano, also looks like a filly with a bright future. Trained by H. James Bond, she was a first-out maiden winner going seven furlongs Sept. 2 at Saratoga. A $310,000 Keeneland buy as a yearling during the 2011 September sale, the bay is by Malibu Moon  out of the winning Tabasco Cat mare Red Hot Bertie.