Here Is Happy is light years away in talent at this stage from 1995 Santa Anita Derby winner Larry The Legend, but trainer Craig Lewis, who conditioned the latter and now the former, hopes Here Is Happy moves forward in Saturday's Grade III Sham Stakes, Santa Anita's first steppingstone to the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
“He's going to improve from the gate,” Lewis said of the son Tale of Ekati, who has had excuses in each of his four starts, twice victimized by slow getaways and twice by being squeezed at the break.
“He's just developing,” Lewis added. “He's been gelded and he'll have blinkers on him now, so I think he'll be better in the gate. Nobody knows what the two turns are going to bring, although he acts like a two-turn horse, but sometimes they fool you.”
Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Caso, owner of one of the nation's most successful auto dealerships, Frontier Toyota in Valencia, Here Is Happy broke his maiden at first asking Aug. 31. Off at 32-1 in an $80,000 maiden claiming race at five furlongs, Here Is Happy rallied from seventh and last after a slow start to win by a half-length.
The one-mile Sham will mark his first race beyond seven furlongs. Joe Talamo, who has ridden the Ohio-bred in all of his races, will once again be aboard.
Other Sham probables include City Plan, Mourinho, My Boy Jack and Shivermetimbers.
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