08/25/2016 8:10AM

Runhappy has first timed workout of year

Shigeki Kikkawa
Runhappy wins the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 in his most recent start.

Champion sprinter Runhappy turned in his first serious workout of 2016 on Thursday, covering three furlongs in 34 4/5 seconds in the predawn darkness at Keeneland.

Trainer Laura Wohlers said her team caught Runhappy, who shipped in to breeze from his base at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, Ky., and exercise rider Marcus O’Donnell galloping out in 46 seconds and 59.

Runhappy has not raced since winning the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, completing a 2015 campaign in which he won four straight graded stakes, including the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, to secure Eclipse Award honors. His 2016 season was first derailed by a bruise to a hind foot, which Wohlers said was treated with a bar shoe, and then by bone bruising in his ankles. Renowned equine veterinarian Larry Bramlage cleared the colt to resume training on Aug. 1.

"He hasn't been back long, but he didn't lose hardly any fitness," Wohlers said. "[He's been] swimming and being turned out every day, about 10 hours a day. I'm real happy with [this work] and happier because he's not breathing hard and looking like he's cooling out well. He's just so easy to get back fit."

Wohlers said Runhappy could return in the Grade 3 Ack Ack Stakes at a mile Oct. 1 at Churchill Downs.

"I'd like to try to go," she said, adding that the long-term plan has always been to stretch out Runhappy, who owns a pair of Grade 1 victories at seven furlongs. "We just want to stretch him out. I'm not opposed to sprinting him again. He’s still got his speed, but I think it's easier on horses to go longer, honestly."

The fall target for the colt would be the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita, with a long-term goal of making the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park, for which owner James McIngvale has purchased a berth.

Wohlers added that regular rider Edgar Prado will regain the mount aboard Runhappy when the colt returns to the races. Prado was forced to sit out the Malibu due to injury, with Gary Stevens piloting Runhappy to victory.