Filly Make Happy Earns Derby Qualification Points in Cattleya Sho

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

November 24th, 2018

If you haven’t already placed a bet on the “All Other Three-Year-Old Fillies” option in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1, maybe you need to open your wallet and reconsider, because against the odds a filly has already won a Kentucky Derby prep race.

That victory came courtesy of Make Happy, who posted a convincing win in the November 24th Cattleya Sho at Tokyo Racecourse in , earning 10 qualifications points on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby to sit atop the early leaderboard.

Facing thirteen rivals while negotiating a metric mile, Make Happy started from the far outside post position, but benefited from a brilliant start under Japan’s leading jockey Christophe Lemaire, which allowed the filly to secure a forwardly-placed position stalking the leaders through early fractions of :23.50, :48.30, and 1:14.10.

One thing Make Happy was unable to avoid was a wide trip—she raced between three and four wide every step of the way—but when the field straightened away into the lengthy homestretch and Lemaire finally asked his filly to run, Make Happy responded with an eye-catching burst of acceleration, running the final quarter-mile in approximately :24 flat to pull away and win by 2 ½ lengths over the late-charging Godolphin colt Kingen, who secured four qualifications points for his runner-up effort. Johann (two points) and Romantico (one point) rounded out the top four. The final time of 1:38.30 was marginally slower than the time of 1:38.20 posted by Ruggero in the 2017 Cattleya Sho and nearly a second off the time of 1:37.40 posted by Kentucky Derby starter Lani in the 2015 renewal of the race.
Nevertheless, Make Happy’s victory in the Cattleya Sho brought her record to a perfect 2-for-2; she had previously won a one-mile newcomers race at Tokyo by a staggering ten lengths. Sold for $650,000 earlier this year and now racing for owner Kazuko Yoshida and trainer Koichi Shinkai, Make Happy’s success on dirt should hardly come as a surprise considering her pedigree. Bred in California by Reddam Racing, which campaigned the Kentucky Derby winners I’ll Have Another and Nyquist, Make Happy is a daughter of Square Eddie (a track record-setting winner on dirt at Santa Anita) out of a mare by Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Ten Most Wanted, so as far as pedigrees go, Make Happy is far from being a Japanese turf horse who happens to be effective on dirt—she’s an American-bred through and through, and that bodes well for her chances of continuing down the Derby trail if her connections so desire.

Whether Make Happy will actually pursue Derby qualification remains to be seen, but it’s hard to knock her performance in the Cattleya Sho and she surely deserves the opportunity. And with the “All Other Three-Year-Old Fillies” option currently offering odds of 68-1… maybe a $2 win bet isn’t the craziest idea.