02/14/2011 2:45PM

Acting Happy starting year at Gulfstream with Breeders' Cup again the goal


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.- Acting Happy began her 2010 campaign in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Gulfstream Park and ended it in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs.

On Wednesday, Acting Happy will begin her 2011 season back at Gulfstream going 1 1/8 miles in a $55,000 second-level optional claiming and allowance race with her ultimate goal to make it back to the Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs again this fall.

Acting Happy, a 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker trained by Rick Dutrow, rallied to a 1 3/4-length victory to win her 2010 and career debut here last winter. In the Breeders’ Cup, however, she faded to finish sixth more than a dozen lengths behind the winner Unrivaled Belle.

In between those two outings, Acting Happy finished second in a pair of entry-level allowance races at Gulfstream, won Pimlico’s Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and was Grade 1 stakes-placed twice when finishing third last summer at Saratoga in both the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama.

“I don’t know if she had any excuse in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Dutrow. “At least I couldn’t find any. Now I just want to try and get her confidence back. She’s definitely a two-turn filly, we know she likes this track since she ran big over it last year, and this looks like a pretty good spot for us to start back.”

Dutrow is bringing Eclipse Award winning rider Ramon Dominguez, who won three straight graded stakes last Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, back down from New York to ride Acting Happy in Wednesday’s main event.

Acting Happy will face only five rivals, including the improving Sweet N Sour Nina who comes off the best race of her career when she rallied from 15 lengths back to finish second, a rapidly diminishing neck behind In Perpetuity, against similar second-level optional claiming types going a mile five weeks earlier.

Sweet N Sour Nina was claimed by trainer Peter Walder for $60,000 out of her 3-year-old finale last fall at Keeneland. She is definitely a horse for the course, having posted half her six career victories at Gulfstream all three of those wins coming in succession here last winter.

Even Road, who drops back into the allowance ranks off a steady diet of stakes competition, Film Charm, Lady S, and Bankers Buy round out the field.