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Runhappy: the 2nd Biggest Story of the Breeders’ Cup Weekend 92

Runhappy romped home to take the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, called the “most taxing race of his life,” which admittedly is just three years long. He set a record for the sprint and is considered a likely future champion. Runhappy’s win earned his owner $1.5 million. 

The horse was trained by Maria Borell, who was unceremoniously fired by Runhappy owner Jim McIngvale and racing manager Laura Wohlers. The alleged cause was Borell’s refusal to gallop the horse the morning after the race. Wohlers issued the order, hoping a fast run would help the horse to get rid of excess lactic acid leftover from the race.

Concern for Runhappy

Borell said that there was heat in Runhappy’s ankle which concerned her. In addition, she believes that the lactic acid would leave his system naturally as he rested up from the race. For those reasons, she refused to take him out for a run.

Under Borell’s tutelage, Runhappy won five starts, including the Grade 3 Phoenix, Grade 1 Sprint and Grade 1 King’s Bishop. The Grade 1 race wins were the first for owner McIngvale during his 20-year history with racehorses. 

After getting fired, Borell made a statement that she put the best interests of the horse first. She also said she misses him and the “magical day we shared,” referring to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint win.

Tangled Reputations

McIngvale, who has fired 33 trainers in his 20 years involved with racing, turned training duties over to racing manager Wohler. 

She actually trained Runhappy for his first two races, including a win at Turfway. But Runhappy finished in ninth place at LeComte and there were rumors that the horse had a fractured tibia. This did not do much for Wohler’s reputation as a trainer.

Suing for Her 10%

Borell is now suing McIngvale for the standard 10% of the horse’s earnings. He has refused to pay it, insisting that she is a private trainer and entitled to less. In her suit, she alleges both breach of contract and defamation.

Borell wants $117,752, which she claims as her share of winnings for training Runhappy’s and Triplehott, another McIngvale racehorse. 

The defamation charge rests on the face that McIngvale told reporters that Borell told him the horse was lame before an important race, the King’s Bishop on Aug. 29. The horse’s vet said he was in good shape. Apparently he was, since he won it by four lengths.


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