Hit Show Ready for the Big Stage in G3 Withers

February 10, 2023

Hit Show wins an allowance optional claimer Dec. 17 at Oaklawn Park (Coady Photography)

Triple Crown-nominated Everso Mischievous Debuts Saturday

Recent Maiden Winner Slip Mahoney on Target for G3 Gotham

NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Gary and Mary West’s Kentucky homebred Hit Show will visit his fourth track in as many starts when he headlines Saturday’s nine-furlong Grade 3, $250,000 Withers, at Aqueduct Racetrack. The Withers, which was rescheduled from February 4 after the card was canceled due to extreme cold and sustained high winds, is a Kentucky Derby qualifier offering 20-8-6-4-2 points to the top-five finishers.

Trained by Brad Cox, the Candy Ride colt, who scratched out of the Grade 3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park in favor of this spot, breezed consistently at the Arkansas oval, including a bullet five-eighths in 1:00.40 on January 28. He arrived in New York on Thursday, February 2, and worked a half-mile over the Belmont dirt training track on Monday with Manny Franco in the irons, going in company with state-bred maiden winner Looms Boldly.

“He got in on Thursday and then trained Friday morning,” said Dustin Dugas, the New York-based assistant for Cox. “We had to walk Saturday because training was canceled, but he galloped again Sunday and then breezed Monday. It was a light breeze over the training track in 50 and he did it well. He’s come out of it in good shape.”

Hit Show graduated on debut sprinting seven furlongs in October at Keeneland, overcoming being bumped at the gate and early traffic trouble before splitting rivals at the top of the lane and surging to the wire a 5 1/4-length winner.

He bobbled after the break of his next outing in November traveling 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs and settled for fourth in a race that runner-up Rocket Can exited to win last Saturday’s Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.

Last out, in a one-mile optional claimer on December 17 at Oaklawn Park, Hit Show settled in fifth position through the opening half-mile before advancing four-wide into the final turn. He poked a head in front at the stretch call and drew off to win by 3 1/2 lengths, garnering a career-best 82 Beyer Speed Figure.

Dugas, who oversees a stable of 10 horses for Cox, said Hit Show has made a good impression.

“He’s a very quiet, laidback horse to do things with on the ground, but when he gets on the track, he’s all business,” Dugas said. “He’s lightly raced, but very professional about things.”

Hit Show will exit post 4 under the dual Withers-winning rider Franco and should have pace to chase with a blinkered Arctic Arrogance stretching back out from the inside post.

“He’s pretty pliable. He can run the race however it unfolds,” Dugas said. “It seems like he has a very good brain on him. He’s not the biggest horse, but he makes up for it with how smart he is and his try.

“Brad likes them to break and get involved,” Dugas added. “Obviously, don’t give them too much to do and don’t get in a speed duel, but keep them involved.”

Hit Show is out of the multiple graded-stakes winning Tapit mare Actress, who posted nine-furlong wins in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico Race Course and Grade 3 Comely at the Big A in a terrific 2017 campaign.

Cox will debut Qatar Racing’s Triple Crown-nominated Everso Mischievous [post 9, Franco] in Race 6 on Saturday, a six-furlong maiden special weight for sophomores.

The Kentucky-bred son of Into Mischief is out of the graded-stakes winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Ever So Clever, a graduate on debut and eventual upset winner of the 2017 Grade 3 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park.

Everso Mischievous sold for $600,000 to China Horse Club/Gandharvi Racing at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and was then purchased by agent Fergus Galvin for $85,000 at the Keeneland Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Dugas said the colt has impressed since arriving in New York from the Churchill Downs Training Center.

“He got up here about three weeks ago. Brad’s son, Blake, had him at the training center and he sent him in with nothing but good reports,” Dugas said. “He was pretty high on him and I can see why. He’s a big horse. He’s very leggy and the stride comes with it.”

Everso Mischievous has breezed twice over the Belmont dirt training track with Franco aboard, including a half-mile from the gate in 48.75 last Friday.

“He’s breezed twice here – from the pole with Manny on and from the gate with Manny – and he’s been very professional. He’s going into it with a good mindset,” Dugas said. “He broke really sharp here the other day with Manny, so he knows him well and I like that we have an outside post with him. He’s been training really well and we really like him. I think he can ultimately go further because of his size, but I don’t think three-quarters will be an issue for him.”

Slip Mahoney (inside) breaks his maiden at third asking (NYRA/Coglianese)

Cox leads all trainers with 38 Triple Crown-nominated horses, including Gold Square’s Slip Mahoney, a recent maiden winner, who is targeting the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham on March 4. The one-turn mile offers 50-20-15-10-5 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-five finishers.

The Arrogate colt, a $150,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, graduated at third asking here on January 21 in a one-mile maiden special weight. With Dylan Davis up, Slip Mahoney led through a half-mile in 47.65 and maintained a narrow lead at the top of the lane over a game Crupi. The two rivals battled the length of the stretch with Slip Mahoney prevailing by a head in a final time of 1:38.96 over the fast main track. The winning effort garnered a career-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure.

“The plan is to run him in the Gotham,” Dugas said. “He’s doing really well. He will breeze tomorrow with Dylan and do a maintenance half-mile.”

His maiden win came on the heels of a narrow defeat in a one-mile maiden tilt on December 17 here over a muddy and sealed main track, missing by a neck to Tapit Trice, who exited that effort to defeat winners last Saturday at Gulfstream by eight lengths to earn a 92 Beyer.

Slip Mahoney is out of the multiple graded-stakes winner Got Lucky, who captured the 2015 Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland.

Cox, a dual Eclipse Award-winner as Outstanding Trainer in 2020-21, captured the 2021 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets with Essential Quality. The 42-year-old conditioner is on the verge of another significant milestone, entering Friday with 1,991 career wins.

Dugas, who has worked with Cox since 2017, said the barn is excited to be nearing the 2,000 mark.

“It’s a huge milestone for Brad as a trainer for being so young,” Dugas said. “He’s really risen quickly. He has a lot of nice horses and it’s something he’s been clear with the team about. The goal has always been to get good horses in the barn and keep them here. We’ve been very fortunate.”

@PastTheWire Did it again Jon! Stay hot!

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