Zoetis Presents Bloodlines: Runhappy Shows Off ‘Super’ Pedigree

by | 12.29.2015 | 9:19am
Runhappy and Gary Stevens winning the 2015 Malibu Stakes

With a smooth victory in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, Runhappy put a smile and a bow on 2015 for his sire Super Saver (by Maria's Mon). Bred in Kentucky by Wayne, Gray, and Bryan Lyster, the dark bay 3-year-old took his third G1 of the year in the Malibu, following successes in the King's Bishop at Saratoga and the Breeders' Cup Sprint last month at Keeneland.

With that record, Runhappy is a strong possibility to win the Eclipse Award as the leading sprinter of 2015, although that accomplishment is actually rather surprising since his sire is best known for winning the 2010 Kentucky Derby and since Runhappy's broodmare sire is the lovely Unbridled stallion Broken Vow, a grand and sturdy influence but not typically mentioned in relation to “champion sprinter.”

Broken Vow, an 18-year-old who was bred and raced by Pin Oak Stud and who has spent his entire career at stud there, has carved a significant niche at stud with G1 winners like Unbridled Belle (Beldame), Rosalind (Ashland), and Cotton Blossom (Acorn), as well as G3 Illinois Derby winner Done Talking and G3 American Derby winner Divine Oath.

Generally, the Broken Vows do their best running at a mile or farther, but the stallion has enough breadth and depth to his stud career that he has shown the ability to get some serious speed for shorter distances on occasion. Notably, multiple G1 winner Sassy Image was both a top juvenile and a very fast filly, and Private Vow (Futurity Stakes) was also cut from that cloth.

Even so, the early stud returns from Super Saver indicate that he is an unexpectedly strong factor for speed. His sire was a champion juvenile with four victories in five 1995 starts, but after being sidelined near the end of that season, Maria's Mon never regained his form in two starts at 3 and went to stud at Pin Oak.

A handsome, fast horse who was attractively priced and not overbred, Maria's Mon succeeded beyond the hopes of most stallion managers anywhere. A really good sire, the gray son of Wavering Monarch reached a pinnacle touched by few sires with a pair of Kentucky Derby winners: Monarchos and Super Saver.

While Monarchos was a beautiful animal who sired some very quick youngsters, his offspring appeared disadvantaged by soundness issues, but those who handled the game well included champion filly sprinter Informed Decision (Breeders' Cup Filly Sprint and two other G1s) and Oaklawn Handicap winner Win Willy.

Super Saver, on the other hand, became the star of the 2014 sales of 2-year-olds in training with his first crop of young athletes. They were mid-sized, nicely balance athletes, but on the racetrack, they showed excellent stride qualities, as well as uncommonly good and consistent mechanical traits.

Some of the most exciting of the stallion's juveniles in 2014 sold for very good prices, making a lot of money for consignors. And then the youngsters came back to win well for their new owners.

As his juveniles had suggested, Super Saver became a top sire of 2-year-olds with his first crop, ranking second among the freshmen sires of 2014, and the son of Maria's Mon is second among 2nd-crop sires in 2015 by progeny earnings. By graded stakes winners and G1 winners, he is the leader among that group.

From the racing results of 2014, the stallion's star of the first crop was G1 Hopeful Stakes winner Competitive Edge, who trained on well enough to win a pair of stakes this season and who will enter stud in 2016 at Ashford.

In addition to Competitive Edge, Super Saver added two more G1 winners from his first crop in 2015.

Of these, Embellish the Lace struck first, winning the Alabama Stakes. Then a week later, Runhappy made good on a monster reputation by getting his first stakes victory in the King's Bishop. Both of these G1 winners have shown the more expected pattern of improvement at 3 so closely associated with much of Super Saver's pedigree.

That tendency has been borne out by the earning statistics from his offspring. The stallion's runners earned just over $1.5 million in 2014, and they tripled that figure in 2015.

The quantity and quality of their achievement has been noted by the breeders and buyers, as well as WinStar Farm, which stands Super Saver. The horse's stud fee will rise to $65,000 live foal for 2016, and with that assurance of increasing respect and quality of mates, the future looks bright for Super Saver.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

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