Joey Freshwater scores in G3 Runhappy
Stakes Recap
May 11, 2024
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Joey Freshwater scores in G3 Runhappy

by NYRA Press Ofiice

Winning Move Stable's Joey Freshwater announced his presence in the sprint division by capturing Saturday's Grade 3, $175,000 Runhappy, a six-furlong test for older horses, at Belmont at the Big A.

The Runhappy, named for the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning Sprinter, was part of a lucrative 11-race card which featured four graded stakes, including the Grade 2, $400,000 Man o’ War; the Grade 3, $200,000 Peter Pan; and the Grade 3, $175,000 Beaugay.

The 4-year-old son of Jimmy Creed, who was a decisive winner of an optional claiming race over this racing strip last out on April 4 for trainer Linda Rice, was the beneficiary of a four-wide trip where he raced close to the quick splits of 22.01 seconds, 44.70, and 56.82 set by Straight No Chaser and then was in the perfect position when the leader faded late.

Jockey Jose Lezcano, who had the return call, had Joey Freshwater forwardly placed from the start, got him into position midway on the turn, and into contention at the top of the stretch. Joey Freshwater rallied to take the lead inside the eighth pole and then dug in to hold on by a neck over Ninetyprcentmaddie. He crossed the wire in the final time of 1:09.41 on the fast track, while Twenty Four Mamba finished in third, another 2 1/4 lengths back.

“He broke pretty good like last time. He was outside, I don’t have to use him to be where I want to be. He liked to be there and run in the clear and I waited til the three-sixteenths and he really punched hard and went on and won the race," Lezcano said.

Straight No Chaser, dispatched as the odds-on 3-5 favorite in the field of five, was making his return from a nearly one-year layoff since making the grade in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint last May at Pimlico Race Course. He was impeded in his efforts from the start by a troubled trip. After breaking from the gate slowly, he stumbled and rushed to the lead when he got his footing under Hall of Famer John Velazquez. Though putting in a game effort, he had tired by mid-stretch and finished fourth, a half-length behind Twenty Four Mamba.

Velazquez explained, “He outbroke himself – a little too fast. The horse outside me [Durante] tried to come in. I was close to the rail and I held him the best I could, but after that he didn’t have it.”

Rice was aware that Straight No Chaser's misfortune worked to Joey Freshwater's benefit.

“When I saw the one stumble and not break well, I thought we’ve got an opening here. With a horse of that caliber you’re just hoping for things to unfold well for you. I think the outside draw was good for him. He ran a big race, again," she said.

Lezcano was also aware of Straight No Chaser's inauspicious beginning.

"He stumbled a little and to get to the lead he had to go faster than we were going, and we were going pretty fast," Lezcano said.

Ninetyprcentmaddie, who was angled widest of all in the upper stretch, rallied strongly through the lane with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons before coming up just short.

“We were unlucky. He was in contact with the field the whole time. He was there. When I got to the quarter-pole, I had to wait a little bit longer than what I wanted to and unfortunately, we didn’t get there on time," said Ortiz, Jr.

Joey Freshwater, who was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Aaron Sones, Dr. Naoya Yoshida and Dr. Eric Crawford, is out of the More Than Ready mare Lake Turkana. He has now won 5-of-8 starts at Aqueduct Racetrack and improved his overall record to 16-6-2-2 while upping his bankroll to $480,780.

Rice said Joey Freshwater will now target the Grade 2, $350,000 True North presented by F. W. Webb, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older horses on June 8 Belmont Stakes Day at Saratoga Race Course.

Joey Freshwater returned $7.80 for a $2 win bet. The complete order of finish behind him was Ninetyprcentmaddie, Twenty Four Mamba, Straight No Chaser, and Durante. Stage Left was scratched.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont at the Big A with a nine-race card, featuring the Grade 3, $175,000 Soaring Softly in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit

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