07/15/2003 11:00PM

Blinkers get 'Happy' to run


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Shortly after trainer Grant Hofmans claimed Happy and Hasty from a $40,000 maiden race at Santa Anita in April, jockey Alex Solis suggested that the gelding be fitted with blinkers for his next start.

The advice has turned around the career of Happy and Hasty. He won a maiden race for $40,000 claimers on May 24 and a starter allowance race on June 18, and Friday night at Hollywood Park Happy and Hasty will try for his third consecutive win in a $51,000 optional claimer over 1 1/16 miles.

Despite his modest credentials, Happy and Hasty can win on Friday, Hofmans said.

"I think he will run another big race," Hofmans said. "The last two times he ran, Alex didn't ask him."

A 3-year-old, Happy and Hasty began his career with Hofmans's father, David, whom Grant assists. Happy and Hasty debuted with a second-place finish in a maiden claimer on March 22. Trainer Mike Marlow claimed Happy and Hasty that day but had him for only one start. Grant Hofmans knew the horse's background and was seeking a prospect for the Class Racing Stable partnership.

"The reason I took him back was I knew he was sound," Hofmans said. "When I took him back off Mike Marlow, Alex said, 'You should try blinkers.' I've never seen a horse turn around. When he was with my dad, this horse ran up to the leaders and leaned out. Now, he blows by them. I've never seen a horse focus as much."

Friday, Happy and Hasty drew the outside in a field of six. He is the only member of the field to have won his last start.

Hofmans is not concerned about the outside draw. "I don't mind, especially with speed to his inside," he said.

Three of the runners are entered to be claimed for $50,000 - Good Meeting, Withholding Info, and MacWard.

MacWard is the most accomplished members of the field, having won 5 of 45 starts and $464,794. Claimed for $40,000 by trainer Doug O'Neill on May 31, MacWard has yet to win on the main track.

Happy and Hasty is likely to stalk Withholding Info and Six Numbers. Withholding Info was claimed for $16,000 on June 28 at Pleasanton and is making his first start for trainer James Kasparoff. A 5-year-old, Withholding Info has won 8 of 23 starts.

Six Numbers has run well against 3-year-olds on turf in recent starts. He won a maiden race on dirt here last December.