06/10/2009 12:00AM

Happy Ticket dies in pasture

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Grade 1 winner Happy Ticket, the leading Louisiana-bred earner, died on May 3 after post-foaling related complications, her owner, Stewart Madison, confirmed Wednesday.

The 8-year-old mare was found dead in her pasture at Glencrest Farm near Lexington, Ky. Her death was first reported by Thoroughbred Times. Happy Ticket, who won the 2005 Ballerina and nine other stakes races, produced an Empire Maker filly on April 24. It was the mare's second foal, following a Distorted Humor colt, now a yearling.

"It's not anything that happens every day, and it's a long explanation by the doctors, and it's complicated," Madison said of necropsy findings he had received. "It happened overnight. At nine o'clock at night everything was fine, and at four in the morning it wasn't."

Happy Ticket was a daughter of Anet and the Septieme Ciel mare Love and Happiness. Unraced at 2, she came to the track for trainer Andrew Leggio Jr,. at 3 and won her first nine races at margins ranging from one to 12 1/4 lengths.

She suffered her first defeat when she finished second behind Madcap Escapade in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney Handicap at Calder, but she bounced back to take the Ballerina by more than five lengths. Her other graded stakes victories came in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis in 2006 and in the Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap in 2005. From 12 wins in 20 lifetime starts, she earned $1,688,838.

"It's going to take me a few minutes to get over this," Madison said. "She never did anything wrong. Never a bad performance, never a bad horse to deal with, and ran every time. She never disappointed."