Edited Gulfstream Release – Trainer Kenny McPeek revealed Friday morning that Lucky Seven Stable’s Smile Happy is now a prime prospect for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 2 at Gulfstream Park.
Lucky Seven Stable also owns McPeek-trained Rattle N Roll, who is scheduled to make his 2022 debut in the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) March 5 at Gulfstream Park.
Smile Happy had been expected to make his second start of the year in either the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland April 9 or the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds March 26.
“You may see him in the Florida Derby,” said McPeek, who saddled Harlan’s Holiday for a victory in the 2002 Florida Derby. “I’m going to try and keep him and Rattle separated because they have the same owner. You’ll see one in the Blue Grass and one in the Florida Derby following the Fountain of Youth.”
Smile Happy and Rattle N Roll are stabled at Gulfstream Park. Smile Happy had a series of six workouts at Gulfstream prior to his second-place finish in the Feb. 19 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.
The son of Runhappy was rated off the pace set by loose-on-the-lead Epicenter before rallying to finish a never-threatening second behind the pacesetter.
“This is a really good horse. He ran well in New Orleans. I think he could have been a tad closer, but the pace didn’t set up well for him. He still showed real bravery to run late. This horse has a very bright future,” McPeek said.
Smile Happy went into the Risen Star undefeated in two starts. The Kentucky-bred colt won at first asking at Keeneland Oct. 29, closing from off the pace to win going away by 5 ½ lengths in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race.
He came right back to capture the Nov. 27 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs by 3 ¼ lengths. Runner-up Classic Causeway won the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs and third-place finisher White Abarrio captured the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream in their respective 2022 debuts