By Randy Goulding
Despite having to be reshod in the paddock, getting bumped at the start and being rank while in tight early, Ima Happy Cat was able to win the $50,000 Seattle Stakes at Emerald Downs on Sunday.
She paid $6.30 for her 2 1/2-length victory over Bella Mia, who was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the six-furlong dash for 3-year-old fillies.
After bumping with Spot On at the break, Ima Happy Cat was eager to join Brilliant Bird and Bella Mia, who dueled through a quarter-mile in 21.76 seconds. Leading rider Rocco Bowen had other intentions, however, and when he tried to ease her into a stalking position she wasn’t thrilled about the idea. Fighting with Bowen, she had to steady at the seven-sixteenths mark.
She settled nicely after she moved outside the dueling pair heading into the turn and she made a strong move to take control of the race at the top of the stretch. She held a 1 1/2-length advangage over Brilliant Bird at the eighth pole and was well in hand in the final stages of the race as Bowen posed for the win picture. Bella Mia looked like she might lose the duel with Brilliant Bird, but she came back late to gain the runner-up position. Brilliant Bird finished a length in front of Diamonds R.
The final time was 1:09.68.
“I was on a loaded horse today,” Bowen said. “She was pretty eager and I had to strangle her early. She finished well and I had her geared down inside the sixteenth pole.”
Trained by Dan Markle, Ima Happy Cat was coming off a sharp win on Tapeta in a maiden special weight race at Golden Gate Fields on April 28.
“She got spooked by a couple of young kids in the paddock and lost a shoe,” Markle said. “She’s just a real quality filly and was a real pro when we had to re-shoe her.”
The California-bred daughter of Smiling Tiger is owned by Sue and Tim Spooner.
“We were just looking to get a race into her at Golden Gate and then bring her back to Emerald, where she would have a fitness edge in a maiden special race,” Sue Spooner said. “It was a pleasant surprise when she ran so well at Golden Gate. I am a happy cat right now.”