Preakness profile: Happy Saver

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 22nd, 2020

Normally a 3-year-old who debuts in mid-June would miss any opportunity to compete in a Triple Crown race. But COVID-19 has turned the racing calendar upside down, which means a late-developing colt like Happy Saver can still vie for victory in a classic.

A son of 2010 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Super Saver, out of a mare by accomplished sire Distorted Humor, Happy Saver was in serious training at Belmont Park last fall, but he failed to start and spent six months on the sideline before he returned to the work tab in April.

The patient approach employed by trainer Todd Pletcher has paid off. Happy Saver first appeared under colors for a 7-furlong maiden special weight June 20 at Belmont Park. The star of the afternoon was Tiz the Law, who posted a runaway victory in the Belmont Stakes (G1), but Happy Saver made a strong impression, when he pressed quick fractions and romped clear by 5 1/2 lengths in the snappy time of 1:21.51.

A month later, the Wertheimer and Frere homebred stretched out to 1 1/8 miles for a Saratoga allowance. Reserved off the early pace in third place, Happy Saver rallied with determination down the homestretch and powered clear late to score by four lengths in 1:49.93, a solid time that produced a 100 Brisnet Speed rating.

Happy Saver reiterated his affinity for 1 1/8 miles when he stepped up in class for the Sept. 7 Federico Tesio S. at Laurel Park. Happy Saver again used tracking tactics, rallied readily when called upon down the homestretch, and sprinted the final 3 furlongs in :35 4/5 to beat stakes winner Monday Morning Qb by 1 1/2 lengths. It was another nine lengths back to the third-place finisher, and Happy Saver’s final time of 1:49.15 produced another 100 Brisnet Speed rating.

With a pedigree geared toward success at classic distances, and with his obvious affinity for 1 1/8 miles, longer trips should be well within reach for Happy Saver.

The rapidly improving colt is under consideration for a start in the Oct. 3 Preakness (G1), the final leg of the restructured Triple Crown, and another step forward could put Happy Saver in the hunt for victory.