Happily; winner of the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere
by Alastair Bull
Happily paved a new path for trainer Aidan O’Brien when she won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Fr-G1) at Chantilly in early October.
O’Brien had won the race seven times previously, but Happily became the first filly from his stable to win the one-mile contest, outstaying the colts.
The victory gave her 10 points on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, placing her third after all four juvenile races in the series had been completed.
It’s most likely that Happily will be aimed at the European Classics. But if O’Brien decided to aim her at Churchill Downs, it would be a toss-up as to whether she would handle the dirt.
She is by Galileo, an outstanding sire of turf runners, but basically an unknown quantity on dirt. He failed in his only dirt effort, the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and two sons of his that raced in the Classic – Gleneagles and Churchill – didn’t figure in the finish either.
The fact that Happily is a full sister to Gleneagles, a multiple Group 1 winner at a mile on turf, doesn’t inspire confidence in her dirt ability, but there is some encouragement on the female side of her pedigree thanks to her dam, the Storm Cat mare You’resothrilling.
Though all five of that mare’s progeny – including Irish One Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1) winner Marvellous, Secretariat Stakes (G1) runner-up Taj Mahal, and and C.L. Weld Park Stakes (Ire-G3) winner Coolmore – have raced on turf, You’resothrilling is a full sister to Giant’s Causeway, runner-up in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic and a top sire of dirt horses.
In addition to the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, Happily also won the seven-furlong Moyglare Stud Stakes (Ire-G1) in Ireland. She started as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) but finished last, though she was trapped well back on the fence and that run is best forgotten.
If Happily did come to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, she’d add plenty of intrigue. But it’s wise to be cautious about betting on it unless she’s directed to the three remaining races on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, all over synthetic tracks next March.