11/16/2012 12:26PM

Parx: Keep Momma Happy, Maryland Million Nursery winner, heads Chris Elser Memorial

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Keep Momma Happy came from eighth in a field of 14 to get up by a neck in the Maryland Million Nursery.

John Servis unintentionally did fellow trainer Ben Feliciano Jr. a huge favor when he scratched Seventeenohsix from last month’s Maryland Million Nursery on the morning of the race. The late defection allowed the Feliciano-trained first-time starter Keep Momma Happy to draw in from the also-eligible list, and the colt capitalized on the opportunity to score a come-from-behind upset at 23-1.

Coincidentally, both Seventeenohsix and Keep Momma Happy are part of the lineup for the Chris Elser Memorial, one of two $75,000 restricted stakes for 2-year-olds going 6 1/2 furlongs Sunday at Parx Racing.

The Elser, for colts and geldings, and the Donna Fryer for fillies, are limited to horses who have spent at least 90 days in South Carolina and have paid nomination fees to that state’s Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

Keep Momma Happy, who came from eighth in a field of 14 to get up by a neck in the Maryland Million Nursery, returns to the main track after an unsuccessful experiment sprinting on turf against open company in the Laurel Futurity.

Feliciano said he was all but certain that Keep Momma Happy was not going to run on Maryland Million Day.

“Up until 11 a.m. that morning I was told this horse would definitely be scratched and not draw in off the AE,” Feliciano said. “I got the phone call on my way home that John Servis had scratched one of his two entries and I was in. I immediately went back to the barn and went into race preparations.”

Feliciano said that he made the decision to run in the Nursery after he was unable to find a suitable maiden race and was encouraged by rider Carlos Marquez Jr. to take a shot in the $102,000 stakes.

“Carlos worked this horse for me twice and both times came back very excited about this colt’s talent,” Feliciano said of Keep Momma Happy, a Maryland-bred son of the A.P. Indy stallion Scipion. “We couldn’t get into a maiden race in the last two weeks and he convinced me to enter in this race and take a chance. I’m glad I listened to his advice.”

Servis will send out an uncoupled entry, Seventeenohsix and Res Judicata. Both colts are getting noteworthy changes for this race.

Seventeenohsix cuts back in distance after making the first five starts of his career around two turns. He was within a head of the lead seven furlongs into his last start, a one-mile allowance. That was also his initial start racing on Lasix.

Res Judicata adds Lasix for his second try against winners. He won his career debut at Penn National in July, then flashed speed and tired going 6 1/2 furlongs on Oct. 21.

The full field of 12 also includes Sailor’s Revenge, who makes his first start since winning a one-mile maiden race at Penn National in late September; Pitch N Roll, a close second going a mile two weeks ago at Parx; and Irish Politics, third in the Jersey Juvenile at Monmouth Park last month.

◗ Nanaja and Off My Cloud are the only two winners among six fillies in the Donna Freyer.

Nanaja won her career debut by a length going 5 1/2 furlongs locally on Oct. 7.

Off My Cloud, a debut winner at Delaware Park going 5 1/2 furlongs in August, cuts back to a sprint and adds Lasix after surrendering a four-length lead in the final furlong of a one-mile race at Laurel Park in late September.