The five-day meet at Franklin's Kentucky Downs is officially the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs following a sponsorship agreement with Houston furniture magnate Jim McIngvale, owner of the former sprint champion and current stallion Runhappy.
The RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs runs Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, 7, 8 and 12, featuring exclusively grass racing over North America’s only European-style turf course. First post each day has been moved up to 12:15 p.m. this year.
Runhappy, North America’s 2015 Eclipse Award champion sprinter and Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, is in his second career as a member of storied Claiborne Farm’s stallion band. Runhappy’s first crop of 2-year-olds will hit the racetrack in 2020 but they have sold well as weanlings and yearlings.
“I think it’s a perfect fit: Kentucky Downs is America’s most unique race meet, and Runhappy the most unique American racehorse we’ve seen in recent years, with his speed, quality and competing without any medication,” McIngvale said in a news release. “One of Kentucky Downs’ meet mottos is ‘It’s gonna be quick.’ What better horse to sponsor that than our brilliantly quick Runhappy?”
Kentucky Downs’ $700,000, Grade 3 sprint stakes for 3-year-olds and older horses has been renamed the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint. The six-furlong stakes is a “Win and You’re In” race as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, with the winner receiving an entry fees-paid berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. Kentucky Downs also will award the RUNHAPPY Turf Sprint winner a $1 million bonus if the horse goes on to win Keeneland’s Grade 2 Woodford and the Breeders’ Cup.
At $2.3 million, Kentucky Downs again offers the highest average daily purses in America, Europe and Hong Kong. The meet the past few years has produced North America’s largest fields and among the lowest takeout rates — the amount taken off the top of each dollar wagered that goes toward purses, the track and parimutuel taxes.
Runhappy is from the first crop sired by 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. After winning his debut by 8 1/4 lengths, Runhappy was injured in his second start during a roughly run edition of the Fair Grounds’ Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes. He returned 5 1/2 months later to win six straight races in 2015, including the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in track record time at Keeneland and Santa Anita’s Grade 1 Malibu.
The stallion also is the title sponsor of Saratoga’s RUNHAPPY Travers (G1) and Belmont Park’s RUNHAPPY Metropolitan Mile (G1), along with Del Mar’s RUNHAPPY Oceanside Stakes and RUNHAPPY Del Mar Futurity (G1).