OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Cash is King and LC Racing’s Mischevious Alex will look to breakthrough at the highest level in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Carter Handicap, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The historic Carter is the first Grade 1 of 2021 on the NYRA circuit as part of a loaded five-stakes card headlined by the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, offering 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.
Also featured Saturday are a trio of Grade 3 stakes, including the $250,000 Gazelle at nine furlongs for sophomore fillies offering 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points; the $200,000 Bay Shore, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores; and the $150,000 Excelsior at nine furlongs for older horses.
Mischevious Alex, a 4-year-old Into Mischief colt trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., won the one-turn mile Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct and seven-furlong Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park last year for former conditioner John Servis.
The versatile dark bay is perfect in two starts since joining the Joseph, Jr. stable, including a prominent score in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint on February 13 last out traveling six furlongs on a fast track.
Joseph, Jr. said Mischevious Alex has proven his ability over multiple distances and tracks.
“I feel pretty confident with him at six furlongs. He’s won at seven furlongs and he’s won over that track already at a mile,” said Joseph, Jr. “I like that he’s won on the track and I think seven furlongs is well within his reach.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr., winner of the last three Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Jockey, will have the call on Mischevious Alex from post 4. The 28-year-old Ortiz, Jr. enjoyed a tremendous winter at Gulfstream with a record-setting 140 wins at the championship meet.
Joseph, Jr. said the accomplished jockey will have plenty of options to find a winning trip.
“He’s very versatile,” said Joseph, Jr of Mischevious Alex. “If they’re going slow enough, he could be on the lead. If not, he’s very rateable for a horse with a lot of speed.”
Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables’ Mind Control will look to add a fourth Grade 1 win at a third NYRA track following previous success in the 2018 Hopeful at Saratoga, the 2019 Woody Stephens at Belmont and the 2019 H. Allen Jerkens at Saratoga.
The 5-year-old Stay Thirsty horse has enjoyed past success at the Big A, where he is 4-for-5, including scores in the 2019 Grade 3 Bay Shore and last year’s Grade 3 Toboggan and Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap.
Mind Control finished third last out in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up won by Sleepy Eyes Todd on December 19 at Gulfstream Park.
Junior Alvarado has the call from the inside post.
Michael Dubb’s Chateau is the likely pacesetter after making the grade last out in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap, a six-furlong sprint on March 6 at the Big A that garnered the 6-year-old Flat Out gelding a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.
Trained by Rob Atras, Chateau boasts a record of 7-9-8 from 33 career starts but has never won past 6 1/2-furlongs.
Chateau worked a swift four furlongs in 49.49 on March 20 over the Belmont dirt training track and followed with an easy half-mile in 51.66 on Saturday.
“He’s coming off just shy of a month between starts,” said Atras. “He’s run his best performances when we were about six or seven weeks in between races, so a month isn’t too bad. You would like to have more time off after such a big performance like his last race, but his last two works were good, and he came out of the Tom Fool pretty well.”
Kendrick Carmouche retains the mount from post 5.
Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stables and LNJ Foxwoods’ Shoplifted is multiple Grade 1-placed, posting a runner-up effort in the one-mile 2019 Hopeful at Saratoga and last year was the third-place finisher traveling seven furlongs in both the Woody Stephens at Belmont and H. Allen Jerkens at the Spa.
The 4-year-old Into Mischief colt has banked $527,000 via a record of 11-2-2-3, including a win in the 2019 Springboard Mile at Remington Park. Shoplifted finished second last out in his seasonal debut when bested by next-out winner Special Reserve in an optional-claiming sprint on February 6 over a sloppy track at Oaklawn Park.
Shoplifted will emerge from post 3 under Jose Ortiz.
Rounding out the field is Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Souper Stonehenge. Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, the 5-year-old Speightstown gelding will make his Big A debut from a runner-up effort in the six-furlong Pelican on February 13 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Tyler Gaffalione will guide Souper Stonehenge from post 2.
The Carter is slated as Race 6 on Saturday’s 11-race program. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.
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Aqueduct Press Release
Photo: Mischevious Alex, (Susie Raisher)