Om seeks return to win column, Hi Happy makes U.S. bow in Seabiscuit

November 23rd, 2016

A fast-closing nose second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), Om stretches back out to a favorable two-turn distance as he tries to snap a string of three consecutive runner-up finishes in Saturday’s $200,000 Seabiscuit (G2) at Del Mar.

Winner of the 2015 Del Mar Derby (G2), Om missed by a half-length when finishing second in his most recent attempt over the course in the August 21 Del Mar Mile (G2). He filled the same position next time out in his final Breeders’ Cup prep, the October 8 City of Hope Mile (G2), and the 4-year-old Munnings colt has registered triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings in his last two outings. Gary Stevens retains the mount for Dan Hendricks.

The 1 1/16-mile turf affair marks the U.S. debut for reigning Argentinean Horse of the Year Hi Happy, who is unbeaten in six career starts. The 4-year-old colt exits a 1 ½-length score in the prestigious Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1) and is a four-time Group 1 winner. Altair Domingos will be along from Argentina to ride the colt for trainer Felipe Souza.

Four of the eight contestants are exiting Breeders’ Cup races and Vyjack can improve upon a seventh in the Dirt Mile (G1). He’s run big in his last three turf starts, including a victory in the City of Hope Mile, but was forced to opt for the Dirt Mile after being excluded from the Mile (G1) on the also-eligibles list. Regular rider Flavien Prat will guide the 6-year-old gelding for Phil d’Amato, who is also represented by listed stakes winner and Grade 3-placed Hunt.

Ring Weekend exits a rallying seventh in the Mile and will make his first appearance at Del Mar. Winner of the 2015 Frank Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita, the 5-year-old gelding also captured the Bernard Baruch (G2) at Saratoga this summer. Drayden Van Dyke picks up the mount for Graham Motion.

Grade 1 winner What a View will try to rebound after weakening to last as the Mile pacesetter. Stakes victor A Red Tie Day and maiden winner Stylistics United round out the field.

A couple of race earlier on the program, 13 juvenile fillies will square off in the $100,000 Jimmy Durante (G3) at a mile on turf. Turf stakes winner and Grade 1 runner-up With Honors, no factor when ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on the main track, is a leading contender and How About Zero will switch surfaces for Doug O’Neill following an encouraging win in the Golden State Juvenile on the Breeders’ Cup Friday undercard.

Other runners of interest include Defiant Honor, La Force, Miss Sugars and Tiburtina.

Om photo courtesy of Benoit