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Favored McPeek colt takes 4-year-old debut

by Bob Wisener | March 17, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Trainer Ken McPeek is seen at Oaklawn after the Grade 3 Fantasy on May 1, 2020. - Photo courtesy of Coady Photography

Two Triple Crown horses last year returned as 4-year-olds Thursday with Smile Happy first and Creative Minister fourth in the $106,000 allowance feature at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

Ken McPeek trains both horses, Smile Happy running eighth in Rich Strike's Kentucky Derby upset and Creative Minister third in Early Voting's Preakness victory two weeks apart in May. Smile Happy went off 4-5 favorite on a track rendered sloppy after steady afternoon rain, pulling away after a strong three-wide move on the final turn.

Completing a natural hat trick for jockey Francisco Arrieta, Smile Happy ($3.80) won by a length and a quarter after nine furlongs in 1:48.95, champion sprinter Runhappy's son making only his sixth start. Deriving stamina influence from a Pleasant Tap mare, Smile Happy won his Keeneland debut around two turns and capped his juvenile season taking the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. Second in the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland, Smile Happy finished 10 lengths behind 80-1 Derby winner Rich Strike May 7, his last start before Thursday.

Creative Minister, after skipping the Derby, later placed fifth in Mo Donegal's Belmont Stakes. This was his first start since October.

Meet winners Speed Bias and Seize the Night took the place and show spots. McPeek trains his Kentucky-bred colts for different owners, Michael Mackin's Lucky Seven Stable campaigning Smile Happy.

Print Headline: Favored McPeek colt takes 4-year-old debut


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