12/26/2013 12:43PM

Bob Marks: Most Happy Fella--The true power source

USTA Photo
Most Happy Fella is one of the great standardbred stallions of all time.

Every so often, venerable handicapper and bloodstock agent, Charlie Karp, reminds me of a conversation that took place in the grandstand at Roosevelt Raceway either in 1970 or 1971.

It seems he remembers my prophecy that Most Happy Fella, a Triple Crown winning son of the first crop sire Meadow Skipper, would go on to become one of the great standardbred stallions of all time.    

In many ways, Most Happy Fella was almost a replica of his sire, although better gaited and without the breaking problems that plagued Meadow Skipper throughout his own storied career.

Both Meadow Skipper and Most Happy Fella used the Cane Pace at Yonkers as their springboards to greatness and both were charter members of what was considered extraordinary 3-year-old pacing crops.

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In 1963, Meadow Skipper had to contend with the likes of Overtrick, Country Don, Hi Lo’s Solar, Fly Fly Byrd and others. Meanwhile, in 1970, Most Happy Fella dealt with Columbia George, Truluck, Carbine Hanover, Keystone Andy and more.

While Meadow Skipper virtually recreated the pacing breed in his own image, as it is almost impossible to find a present-day pacer that doesn’t trace back to him within four or five generations, it is Most Happy Fella who has emerged as the current dominant male line power source.

Actually, there are three distinct Most Happy Fella male line extensions currently thriving and leading breeders are effectively combining these linear branches in a direct line-breed back to the power source.

The three diverse Most Happy Fella branches begin with what has come to be known as the Cam Fella branch, as Cam Fella is his most successful son.

Then there’s the No Nukes-Western Hanover branch, via the Most Happy Fella son Oil Burner. Oil Burner was not a successful sire but he did produce No Nukes in his first crop.  No Nukes then generated Western Hanover and Jate Lobell.  Western Hanover has expanded this branch via sons Western Ideal, The Panderosa, Western Terror and the 2013 first crop sensation Well Said.

From Western Ideal has since come current-day greats Rocknroll Hanover and American Ideal, which gives the sire the unprecedented honor of producing two great stallion sons in the same crop.

Finally, to a lesser extent, is the Dragon Again stem on the family tree. He is by Dragons Lair, who in turn is by the Most Happy Fella son Tyler B. It’s a smaller but distinct branch and one that is currently thriving, although there may not be an appropriate Dragon Again son to carry on, as his great son Foiled Again is unfortunately a gelding.  

What is now occurring with increasing frequency is that mares sired from one branch are being bred back to stallions of the other branches with a noticeable success ratio.

For example, the great mare See You at Peelers is by Bettor’s Delight from West Side Glory who is by Western Ideal. Thus she’s a fourth generation Most Happy Fella on her male side as Bettor’s Delight is by Cam’s Card Shark, who in turn is by Most Happy Fella’s son Cam Fella.

See You At Peelers’ dam is by Western Ideal, a son of Western Hanover who traces back to Most Happy Fella via No Nukes and Oil Burner.

Thus See You At Peelers is a direct 4x6 line breed to Most Happy Fella via her sire and dam’s sire.

The top five money-winning sons of American Ideal (sire of He’s Watching), whose book is now full and closed at Blue Chip Farms in 2014, are direct line-breeds back to Most Happy Fella.

Of that quintet, Heston Blue Chip and Sunfire Blue Chip are from Cam’s Card Shark mares. American Jewel is from a Camluck mare, Romantic Moment from a Jate Lobell mare and Idyllic from a Magical Mike mare. All five are Most Happy Fella line mares. Cams Card Shark and Camluck are direct Cam Fellas while Jate Lobell is by No Nukes and Magical Mike is a son of Tyler B.

This year’s probable 3-year-old filly champion, I Luv The Nitelife, is by Western Ideal’s other great son Rocknroll Hanover, from the Camluck mare Lisjune.  There’s the Western Hanover-Cam Fella branch combination again.

Interestingly enough, Rocknroll Hanover’s second leading money winner, A Rocknroll Dance, is from the Cam’s Card Shark mare Wichita Hanover.  Actually, 16 of the top 40 money-winning Rocknroll Hanovers are from Most Happy Fella line mares.

Then there’s Dragon Again, in the limelight through his ageless son Foiled Again. While Foiled Again is from an Artsplace mare and not applicable here, we note that three of the top six money winners by Dragon Again are indeed applicable, as their dams are by Jate Lobell, Camluck and Western Hanover, respectively. In all, 17 of Dragon Again’s top 40 money winners are from Most Happy Fella line mares.

This brings us to the 2013 debut stallion Well Said (Western Hanover-Must See), whose top three money winners-- Southwind Silence, Uffizi Hanover and Sometimes Said-- are from mares by Camluck, Dragon Again and Armbro Mackintosh (Jate Lobell), respectively. Actually 25 of Well Said’s 40 leading money winners are from Most Happy Fella line mares.

What this holds for the future is anybody’s guess, but it’s obvious that we will be seeing many more stakes winners carrying that direct double cross to the power source Most Happy Fella.

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