05/13/2010 11:00PM

Most Happy Fella takes on elders

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ELMONT, N.Y. - It will the young whippersnapper against the old guard in Sunday's ninth race, in which the 3-year-old Most Happy Fella takes on six veterans in a $53,000 optional claimer for New York-breds at 1 1/16 miles.

Most Happy Fella came to hand late last year for trainer Bill Badgett Jr., winning an off-the-turf maiden race at Aqueduct's fall meet, followed by a pair of allowance wins when stretched out on the inner track.

Most Happy Fella set the pace for six furlongs in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial before tiring to wind up sixth, then turned in a pair of bullet workouts on Belmont's main track. The gelding was tried on turf nine days ago and raced far back in a swiftly run allowance mile (1:34) versus open company.

Switching back to dirt, Most Happy appears the one to catch under Eibar Coa. He will get anywhere from four to eight pounds from his elders, five of whom are stakes winners.

The senior citizen among the group is the 8-year-old Naughty New Yorker, a $1 million earner who comes off a solid third-place finish in the Packett's Landing overnight stake.

Naughty New Yorker, who will be making his 59th start, comes off two bullet workouts recently for trainer Pat Kelly and will have regular pilot Jean-Luc Samyn aboard.

The others are all making their second starts back from layoffs of varying length and have some questions to answer after failing to make an impact in their comeback races.

Ruffino, a Jim Bond-trained gelding whose only loss from five starts last year was a close second in the Empire Classic, was well regarded for his season debut in the Packett's Landing but finished a well-beaten fifth. That was the second time he had ever been out of the money. He will get a switch back to Rajiv Maragh, who has been aboard for Ruffino's last five wins.

Groomforvictory won his last three starts of 2009 for Barclay Tagg but returned from a five-month layoff in the Billy Redcoat overnight stakes and was never close after being shuffled back early.

Giant Moon, the 2009 Excelsior winner, was sidelined by foot issues for a year and flashed some speed before tiring in the opening-day Westchester for Rich Schosberg.

Dr. D.F.C. and Love Abroad complete the field.