Dismissed at longshot odds after drawing in from the also-eligible list, Libertyrun (Runhappy) sprinted clear in the final furlong to get his sire (by Super Saver) off the mark in Wednesday’s fourth race at Indiana Grand. Debuting in the colors of owner/breeder Jim McIngvale as a 23-1 gamble, the Louisiana-bred jumped well and put himself right into the mix, settling about four off the inside and just off the pace into the turn. Between rivals on the bend, Libertyrun was confidently handled by Miguel Mena, responded when set down in upper stretch and kicked clear to score by an impressive 6 1/2 lengths. Paquime (Cinco Charlie) was second.
“He’s not a very big horse, but he is very professional,” said Mena. “He came out of the gate great. When we got to the stretch, he had his ears pricked and I hit him once and he took off running. I hit him one more time and he continued on again. I think he is a very nice horse.”
“I’m very emotional right now. It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Kelly Wohlers, who serves as assistant to trainer Laura Wohlers, McIngvale’s sister in law, of the much-anticipated first win for the well-advertised Runhappy.
Of Libertyrun, she said “He’s a very nice athlete. He’s got Runhappy’s mind, but he’s got a little more pep in his step. Runhappy had pep in his step when he got to the paddock. But this horse is all the time on go. He loves what he does.”
Runhappy was himself a debut winner at Turfway Park in 2014, overcoming his inexperience for an eye-catching 8 1/4-length success. Himself a five-length allowance winner at this track almost five years ago to the day, Runhappy went on to win the GI King’s Bishop S., the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint and GI Malibu S. en route to Eclipse-champion sprinter honors that season.
Libertyrun hails from the family of fellow champion Points Offthebench (Benchmark) and has a full-brother foaled this term. Dam Slews Return (Came Home) was bred back to Ready’s Image. Runhappy, who stood the 2020 breeding season for an advertised fee of $25,000, is represented by 94 juveniles from his first crop. He was the second-leading freshman sire of yearlings in 2019, per TDN Sales Statistics, and is in the same spot with 2-year-old sellers, including colts for $475,000 and $435,000 and an $800,000 RNA.
4th-Indiana Grand, $31,000, Msw, 7-8, 2yo, 5 1/2f, 1:05.63, ft.
LIBERTYRUN (c, 2, Runhappy–Slews Return, by Came Home) Lifetime Record: 1-1-0-0, $18,600. Click for the Equibase.com chart.
O/B-James McIngvale (LA); T-Laura Wohlers.