Vekoma Overwhelms Rivals in Runhappy Carter

Vekoma (Candy Ride {Arg}) made 8-5 look like a gift, as he paddled his way through the final furlong of the Belmont slop to post a dazzling 7 1/4-length victory in the GI Runhappy Carter H. and in the process, earning a fees-paid berth in the gate for the GI Breeders' Cup Sprint at Keeneland Nov. 7.

Drawn outside in a field scratched down to eight runners, Vekoma was one of the first away, but was happy to cede the early advantage to American Anthem (Bodemeister). Stalking that one through the middle stages, Vekoma jumped into the bridle with 2 1/2 furlongs to travel, circled up menacingly in upper stretch and powered home late with his unique way of moving to win for fun over Network Effect (Mark Valeski) stopping the timer for seven furlongs in a sharp 1:21.02.

A smart winner of Aqueduct's GIII Nashua S. in his second career start at two with Network Effect back in second, Vekoma punched his ticket to the GI Kentucky Derby with a sharp performance in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. at Keeneland. Across the line 13th on the First Saturday in May, the chestnut kicked off his 4-year-old season with a visually impressive performance and career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure in Gulfstream's Sir Shackleton S. going seven furlongs Mar. 28.

Trainer George Weaver was also represented by Game Face S. winner Up in Smoke (The Big Beast) at Gulfstream Park Saturday afternoon.

“It's just so nice to have a horse this good,” Weaver said. “He's always been a special horse. I'm just grateful he's in my barn to be honest.

Weaver continued, “I think off that effort, we'll look at the [GI Runhappy] Met Mile [July 4]. If we can get him back in four weeks and if he's doing well, we'll think about it. He's such a special horse and he's one of those horses that will do things that you may not think are ideal for him. He's just that good. I've never had a horse with this much talent and determination in him. He just knows what he is.”

Pedigree Notes:
Vekoma, is one 16 Grade I winners/44 graded winners/88 black-type winners for leading sire Candy Ride (Arg), whose other top-class runners include Horse of the Year Gun Runner, as well as champions Shared Belief and Game Winner. Damsire Speightstown, a leading sire in his own right, is coming into his own as a broodmare sire with 24 stakes winners out of his daughters to date, including 2019 GISW Mia Mischief (Into Mischief). Speightstown's Mona de Momma, winner of the 2010 GI Humana Distaff S., had only three foals before her death in 2017, with Vekoma being her last. Her unplaced dam was a half-sister to MGSW, GISP, and popular sire Mr. Greeley (Gone West).

Saturday, Belmont Park
RUNHAPPY CARTER H.-GI, $250,000, Belmont, 6-6, 3yo/up, 7f, 1:21.02, sy.
1–VEKOMA, 120, c, 4, by Candy Ride (Arg)
1st Dam: Mona de Momma (GISW, $384,399), by Speightstown
2nd Dam: Society Gal, by Linkage
3rd Dam: Long Legend, by Reviewer
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($135,000 Ylg '17 KEESEP). O-R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables; B-Alpha Delta Stables, LLC (KY); T-George Weaver; J-Javier Castellano. $137,500. Lifetime Record: 7-5-0-1, $970,525. Werk Nick Rating: B. Click for the    eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Network Effect, 118, c, 4, Mark Valeski–Sandy Key Gal, by Put It Back. ($95,000 2yo '18 OBSAPR). O-Klaravich Stables, Inc.; B-Louis Jolin (FL); T-Chad C. Brown. $50,000.
3–American Anthem, 120, h, 6, Bodemeister–Indy's Windy, by A.P. Indy. ($180,000 Ylg '15 KEESEP; $435,000 2yo '16 OBSMAR; $145,000 5yo '19 KEENOV). O-Don Tiger; B-WinStar Farm, LLC (KY); T-Danny Gargan. $30,000.
Margins: 7 1/4, 1 1/4, 3 3/4. Odds: 1.65, 2.85, 16.60.
Also Ran: Firenze Fire, Nitrous, Mind Control, Bon Raison, Still Having Fun. Scratched: Majestic Dunhill, Midnightcharly, Performer.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

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