TDN Top Triple Crown Contenders

Smile Happy

1) SMILE HAPPY (c, Runhappy–Pleasant Smile, by Pleasant Tap) 'TDN Rising Star' O-Lucky Seven Stable. B-Moreau Bloodstock Int'l Inc. & White Bloodstock LLC (KY). T-Kenneth G. McPeek. Sales History: $175,000 wlg '19 KEENOV; $185,000 ylg '20 FTKSEL. Lifetime Record: GSW, 2-2-0-0, $284,810. Last Start: 1st GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. Next Start: GII Risen Star S., FG, Feb. 19. KY Derby Points: 10.

Smile Happy has brawn, natural speed, ahead-of-his-peers mental maturity, and “swagger factor” on his side. But they don't drape a blanket of roses across your back on the first Saturday in May just for checking a lot of boxes on the desirability list. This son of Runhappy needs racing experience to flesh out his authoritative two-for-two record as a juvenile, and trainer Ken McPeek has now settled on the GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds over 1 1/8 miles for Smile Happy's sophomore debut (after previously considering shorter and earlier preps at both Oaklawn and Gulfstream). McPeek told Daily Racing Form last week the Risen Star would be the first of what would “ideally” be a two-prep path to Louisville. Since 1937, only three horses have won the Derby with four or fewer previous lifetime starts: Animal Kingdom (four), plus Justify and Big Brown (three each). McPeek trainees returning after 60 to 90 days off in races of nine furlongs or greater have won two of 15 starts over the past five years. On Sunday, Smile Happy closed at 8-1 in Pool 2 of the Derby future wager, the lowest-priced individual betting entrant behind the 9-5 favored field.

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