07/13/2002 11:00PM

Happily Unbridled takes HBPA Handicap


Happily Unbridled broke a nine-race losing streak Saturday by gamely holding off Gal On the Go to win the $100,000 HBPA Handicap at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

Happily Unbridled, owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Elliott Walden, prevailed by a head in the one-mile HPBA, which serves as the local prep for the highlight of the 41-day Ellis meet, the Aug. 10 Gardenia Stakes. Walden said he would seriously consider the $200,000 Gardenia as the next start for Happily Unbridled, a 4-year-old Unbridled filly who returned $3.20 as heavy favorite in a field of eight fillies and mares.

Larry Melancon was aboard Happily Unbridled, who had been purchased this spring by her new connections. The victory was her first since last September.

Gal On the Go, the 5-1 third choice under Lonnie Meche, was 4 3/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Red n'Gold. The winning time was 1:38.19 over a fast surface.