Get Happy Mister was named the 2014 Colorado-bred Horse of the Year at the Colorado Thoroughbred Breeders Association awards dinner held at Arapahoe Park on June 27. The award honored one of the best campaigns in the history of Colorado horse racing. Get Happy Mister completed an undefeated 2014 season at Arapahoe Park with five victories, four of them in stakes races. His top performance came in a 2 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Arapahoe Park Classic.
Bred in Colorado by Willard Burbach, the 5-year-old bay gelding sired by First Samurai out of dam Sara Margaret is owned by Annette Bishop, trained in Colorado by Kenneth “Butch” Gleason, and ridden in Colorado by Mike Ziegler. Based in Southern California in 2015 in the barn of Mark Tsagalakis, Bishop’s son-in-law, Get Happy Mister won the $100,500 Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes at Santa Anita in his first race on turf on April 19 with Tyler Baze aboard. With that victory, Get Happy Mister became the highest-earning Colorado-bred ever at $384,928, passing the $342,783 career earnings of Cut of Music.
“He’s an outstanding horse. He’s very deserving,” Bishop said.
Hall-of-fame trainer Jack Van Berg shared stories from his half-century of experience in horse racing as guest speaker at the CTBA awards dinner. Van Berg also served as auctioneer for a charity auction that included special memorabilia from Van Berg’s 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories with Alysheba. Proceeds will be donated to CANTER Colorado, an organization that finds new homes for retired racehorses.
“I love the people. I love how down-to-earth they are. It’s like family,” Van Berg said about Arapahoe Park.
Other Colorado-bred honorees included Sudies Storm (older mare), Bridlewood Angel (3-year-old filly), Mr Wild Kitty (3-year-old colt/gelding), Ms. Battlefield (2-year-old filly), and Sky T (2-year-old colt/gelding). Burbach was honored as Colorado champion breeder and Bishop as Colorado champion owner.