Happy Mesa From Downtown in Hilltop

8th at PIM, $100kHilltop S. (1m)Winner: Happy Mesa, f, 3 by Sky Mesa

Happy Mesa | McCue/MJC

Drawn widest in the field, Happy Mesa was the beneficiary of five scratches to her inside and another to her outside and was angled over to the fence to save ground from gate seven as favored Victory to Victory (Exchange Rate) attended a demanding pace from the inside. The chalk was running on empty at the top of the lane, and Compelled looked dangerous with a rails rally, but switched out widest by Javier Castellano into the lane, Happy Mesa finished quickest of all for a second black-type success.

“She was very impressive and broke very well,” said winning rider Javier Castellano. “I give all the credit to Graham Motion and the owners who told me how to ride the horse. They gave me some tips, I put it together and it worked out great. There was a lot of speed in the race, so I took back and saved ground. I felt it was a hot pace, so I took my time. It paid off today.”

The dark bay upended last September’s Selima S. at 37-1 at Laurel to go two for two, at which point Great Point Stables and Highclere America bought in and she was transferred from Hamilton Smith to Graham Motion. Second on the stretch out in Santa Anita’s Surfer Girl S. in October, she was 12th in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Nov. 4 and seventh in a controversial running of Del Mar’s GIII Jimmy Durante S. 22 days later. Fourth in Gulfstream’s GIII Herecomesthebride S. on seasonal debut Mar. 4, she was a neck second in that venue’s Sanibel Island S. last out Apr. 1.

“After Florida we decided to point for this race and give her the time,” Motion explained. “She’s very honest, this filly. She’s very game. I don’t think Gulfstream was exactly her spot, but I give the owners a lot of credit. They wanted to run in this spot. I think this mile might be a really good distance for her. I’m not certain how much farther she wants to go.”

Happy Mesa’s dam, who brought $110,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale while carrying the Hilltop heroine, has an unraced 2-year-old Orb colt, a yearling colt by Mineshaft and a filly boal by Custom for Carlos. She sold for $45,000 at KEENOV ’15 carrying the son of Mineshaft.

HILLTOP S., $100,000, PIM, 5-19, 3yo, f, 1mT, 1:33.61, fm.
1–HAPPY MESA, 116, f, 3, by Sky Mesa
1st Dam: Happy Choice (SP), by Broken Vow
2nd Dam: Rumors Are Flying, by Kris S.
3rd Dam: Missed the Wedding, by Blushing Groom (Fr)
($20,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP). O-Great Point Stables LLC, Highclere
America, Zoom and Fish Stable Inc. et al.; B-Branch Equine, LLC
(KY); T-H. Graham Motion; J-Javier Castellano. $60,000.
Lifetime Record: 8-3-2-0, $168,055.2–Compelled, 118, f, 3, War Front–Mutually Benefit, by Dynaformer. O/B-Glen Hill Farm (FL); T-Thomas F. Proctor.$20,000.
3–Dynatail, 120, f, 3, Hightail–Southern Dynamo, by
Dynaformer. ($6,000 Ylg ’15 KEESEP; $5,000 2yo ’16 OBSOPN).
O-Ballybrit Stable, LLC; B-Calumet Farm (KY); T-Michael Dini.
$10,000.Margins: 1, HD, 1 1/4. Odds: 3.80, 2.50, 17.40.
Also Ran: Victory to Victory, My Sweet Stella, Dance Queen, Priss. Scratched: Mercy Ann, Chubby Star, Follow No One, Romantic Music, Sweeping Paddy, Corporate Queen. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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