Day At The Track

John Butenschoen is happy about Happiness

01:34 PM 13 Nov 2014 NZDT
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John Butenschoen, harness racing
John Butenschoen
Steve Wolf Photo

For John Butenschoen, happiness is seeing Happiness in action.

A 2-year-old female pacer, Happiness faces seven foes in the second of two Breeders Crown eliminations Friday night at the Meadowlands. Butenschoen trains the filly, which he co-owns with breeder Dr. John Egloff’s Vieux Carre Farms.

Happiness drew post eight in her Breeders Crown elim and is 20-1 on the morning line. She has won three of five races, including a division of the Historic-Debutante Stakes, and earned $31,483.

Her career got off to a late start because of a hairline fracture in a rear pastern bone, but Butenschoen has held the filly in high regard.

“She’s a real big, strong-looking mare,” Butenschoen said. “We liked her a lot (in the winter). It was disheartening when she came up sore on us. I dropped all of her early stakes races. I swam her for six or seven weeks and started bringing her back slowly.

“I figured if we got her there, OK, we could kind of see what we had for next year.”

A daughter of Rocknroll Hanover-Panevolence, Happiness won her first three starts, including the 1:53.1 victory over stakes-winner (and Breeders Crown rival) Ideal Nuggets in the Historic at Harrah’s Philadelphia, before going off stride in her next race at Vernon Downs. Last week, she faced mostly 3-year-old female pacers and finished fourth after leading to the opening quarter in :26.4.

“Her second lifetime start at (Philly) was kind of a big eye-opener,” Butenschoen said. “For a 2-year-old filly to do what she did (winning in 1:52.4) was pretty good.

“We got in a bad spot up in Vernon. I don’t know what happened, but she ended up running over a wheel or something and got an interference break. She raced back last week and put in a decent effort. She stepped out of their pretty hard and just got caught late.”

Divine Caroline, a stakes-winning daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven-Loving Caroline from the stable of trainer Joe Holloway, is the 2-1 morning line favorite in Happiness’ elimination. She is owned by Val D’Or Farms, Ted Gewertz, Rojan Stables and Michael Ouriel.

Undefeated JK She’salady is the 4-5 choice in the first elim, followed by Sassa Hanover at 2-1. JK She’salady, a daughter of Art Major-Presidential Lady, is unbeaten in 10 starts for trainer Nancy Johansson and breeder/owner 3 Brothers Stables.

Sassa Hanover (Rock N Roll Heaven-Sayo Hanover) has won nine of 11 races for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing, The Panhellenic Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, and Larry Karr.

The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final on Nov. 22.

“We’re kind of seeing what we got,” Butenschoen said. “I think she can step up and go with these horses. I don’t know if she can compete with the likes of JK She’salady, but that’s why we put her in, to find that out.”

by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

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