Preakness Profile: Happy Jack

Off a 14th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Happy Jack figures to go off as one of the longest shots in the nine-horse Preakness field. In fact, outside of his first-out maiden triumph, Happy Jack has been beaten by double digits in all of his races.

But trainer Doug O’Neill is a guy who knows how to win big races. He’s won the Kentucky Derby twice and, in 2012, won the Preakness with I’ll Have Another.

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GQ SAYS…

Trainer / Jockey (Preakness Mounts W-P-S): Doug O’Neill / Tyler Gaffalione (1:1-0-0)

Last Race (Finish): Kentucky Derby (14th)

Morning Line Odds: 30-1

Found it interesting that this son of 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow was moderately backed (23-1) in the Derby field of 20 considering he finished a distant third in his previous race, the Santa Anita Derby at higher odds (26-1) versus just 5 rivals. My point is this one-time winner was somewhat respected when facing the best of his class, yet he is disrespected here based on his 30-1 Morning Line odds.

In my humble opinion the Derby is a toss because he lost all chance before the starting gate opened. If you recall as the last runner was loaded into the Derby starting gate, Happy Jack in Post Position 2 acted up such that the assistant starter backed him out of the gate, the on-track Veterinarian did a quick check, gave a thumbs up and back into the gate he went.

How often do you see a similar incident before a race and that horse proceeds to run well? The answer is slim and none, and slim left town. Blinkers go back on after racing without them in the Derby. His pilot is the only rider who has experienced the thrill of a Preakness victory, it came aboard War of Will in 2019, his lone Preakness mount to date. He appeared to be “on the muscle” at Pimlico after his morning tour around the dirt oval. I’ll use this runner to complete the Trifecta or Superfecta.

Happy Jack (KY) / T: Doug O’Neill
Oxbow – Tapistry, by Tapit
04/07/2022      14    Kentucky Derby (CD)
04/09/2022      3      Santa Anita Derby (SA)
03/05/2022      3      San Felipe (SA)
02/06/2022      5      Robert B. Lewis (SA)
  • Happy Jack gallops at Churchill Downs. Photo Coady Photography.

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