Happy My Way Seeks to Recapture Maryland Sprint Handicap Championship Form

Happy My Way Seeks to Recapture Maryland Sprint Handicap Championship Form

BALTIMORE, MD., 05-14-15– At this time last year, Happy My Way was beginning to look like one of the premier older male sprinters in the country, but the son of Wilko’s convincing victory in the $150,000 Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap (G3) surprisingly turned out to be his last trip to the winner’s circle for nearly a year.

That could all change Saturday when trainer Joe Orseno brings the 5-year-old gelding back to compete in the same six-furlong race he won on last year’s Preakness undercard, a race that drew eight runners.

 It will be Happy My Way’s first start since finishing second in the Gulfstream Park Sprint on Feb. 21 and his fifth consecutive non-winning performance since that Pimlico score, but Orseno seems undeterred.

“We’ve been working backwards from this race since last year,” he said. “This is the race we’ve had on our schedule all along. We ran him kind of sparingly in Florida this year (twice). We’re probably only going to run him five or six times this year, so we just decided to give him a little time in between. I didn’t want to overdo it with him.”

Orseno said he had considered another start in Florida, but when Gulfstream opted to change the distance of the Sir Shackelford to seven furlongs, he dropped that idea.  The front-running gelding, owned by Sagamore Farm and Mel Palkoff, hasn’t run in dirt races longer than six and a half furlongs since 2013.

Last year’s Maryland Sprint Handicap performance, a convincing 5 ¾ lengths romp, was the third win in a row for Happy My Way and convinced Orseno the gelding was ready for bigger and better things. His optimism was rewarded by a solid second-place finish in Saratoga’s A. G. Vanderbilt (G1) in early August.

“I thought we had a little bit of bad luck there or else he would have won a Grade 1,” Orseno said. “We had a bad rainstorm up there and didn’t get to train him the way we wanted and we missed a serious work, but he still ran second.”

Orseno brought Happy My Way back to his home base at Monmouth at the end of April and said he’s been doing better than he has all year. Joe Bravo will ride as usual.

“He’s a pretty good fresh horse,” Orseno said. “He had a fantastic work at Gulfstream – five furlongs in 59 1/5 – just before we shipped and I really like the way he’s going into this race. He tries every time he runs. He’s doing very well actually. He’s coming in there ready anyway.”

Happy My Way’s opponents are Coup de Grace, Jack’s in the Deck, Picko’s Pride, Sandbar, Service for Ten and Warrioroftheroses.

Coup de Grace will be making only his second start of 2015 for Fox Hill Farm and trainer Larry Jones. He was a non-threatening third in an optional claimer at Fair Grounds on March 20, his first time in blinkers. He has since had three outstanding works for Jones.

Picko’s Pride was third behind Alsvid in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn in his only start this season. Sandbar has been on the board in his last two starts for trainer Joe Sharp, both non-stakes efforts.

Souper Knight is winless in four starts this season, his best outing being a third-place finish in the General George in February for trainer Mike Trombetta. Service for Ten was out of the money in a turf allowance in his only start of 2015.

Warrioroftheroses has made three starts this season without a victory, his most recent an eighth-place showing in the two-turn Charles Town Classic (G2), in which he set the early pace.