Mischief Afoot

August 9, 2022

There was massive mischief afoot last week. The Into Mischief kind of mischief. The super sire had a slew of winners come off the track beginning with his 2-year-old daughter, Prank.

StarLadies Racing, LNJ Foxwoods and Gainesway Stable’s cleverly named filly won her debut on Sunday, July 31 at Saratoga by an impressive 9 3/4 lengths over nine entries going five and a half lengths on the dirt. 

“She’s all Into Mischief when you look at her. She looks like her stallion, and she’s been a consummate pro since Day One,” said her trainer Todd Pletcher.

Prank winning her debut. (NYRA/Coglianese)

Prank, who emerged from post 6 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons, was hurried to the front to dictate the pace and was briefly held to a half-length lead by High Class at the half-mile call. She quickly shook off her rival and widened her margins at each point of call, pulling away easily with a few shakes of the reins and one right-handed tap of the crop.

Pletcher said he was expecting Prank to give a strong performance after showing her maturity in a series of workouts that included a five-furlong breeze over the main track in 1:01.66 on July 11.

“I always try to underplay it, but I’ll put it this way – it did not surprise me,” said Pletcher. “She caught onto everything first time and learned quickly. She’s done everything right.”

Pletcher added that Prank could potentially make her next appearance in the seven-furlong Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway on September 4 at the Spa.

Ortiz, Jr., who worked the filly once from the gate prior to her debut, said he was also expecting a good effort from her. 

“She did it very nicely. She’s a nice filly,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “I worked her in the morning from the gate and she was very nice. She gave me a good feeling – she broke sharp, I took ahold of her and never let her run and she went in 48 or 47 [seconds], so I was excited. I wanted to see what she would give me, and obviously she was nice.”

Out of the Pulpit mare Callingmissbrown, Prank was a $500,000 purchase from the Ashview Farm consignment at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She was bred in Kentucky by Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stable.

Prank is also a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Mo Donegal. 

On Saturday, August 6, there were four Into Mischief offspring who had winning trips.

Also trained by Todd Pletcher, 3-year-old filly Colorful Mischief was the victor at Saratoga by 1/2 a length in a seven-furlong $115,000 Allowance on the dirt in a field of nine. Under Tyler Gaffalione she completed the course in 1:24.21. 

Breaking from post 5, Colorful Mischief settled into third behind Portilla and Wicked Hot where she remained just off the top pair three wide through the turn. Then tucking to the two path under coaxing from the five-sixteenths through the latter portion of the bend, Colorful Mischief spun just off the inside into upper stretch, dug in under a drive issuing a challenge through the final furlong and was up in the last jumps to the finish to prevail.

Colorful Mischief winning an Allowance at Saratoga. (NYRA/Coglianese)

For the win Colorful Mischief paid $8.60, 4.60 and 3.40; for place Wicked Hot $7.90 and 5.00; and Big City Momma $6.60 for show.

Campaigned by St, Elias stables the bay filly is out of Distorted Humor mare Color Me Flying. She was bred in Kentucky by Clearsky Farm and was purchased by St. Elias at the Fasig-Tipton 2020 Select Yearling Showcase for $300,000. 

With the latest win Colorful Mischief’s record is four starts with two wins and two thirds with earnings of $157,410.

Meanwhile, down the coast at Monmouth Park, Provocateur, another Pletcher trainee was starting in the $100,000 Jersey Shore Stakes.

Jockey Jairo Rendon was given a perfect set-up with a stalking trip behind dueling leaders. When the rail provided an opening too tempting to pass up, allowing him to slip through easily on the way to a two-length victory in the six-furlong dash for 3-year-olds in a winning time of 1:08.81.

Provocateur winning the Jersey Shore handily. (Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

“When the rail opened up, if he didn’t shoot in there the way he did he might have not won,” said Anthony Sciametta, who oversees Pletcher’s division at Monmouth Park. Jairo rode a great race. He had to use the opening on the rail when he did. Ideally, he wanted to sit and go around them. But when it opens up like that and you have the chance to take it you have to go for it – and Jairo did just that.”

Owned by My Racehorse Stable and Spendthrift, Provocateur had a rail trip behind Defend and Lightening Larry as those two went at it through an opening quarter of :21.67 and a half in :44.04.

By the middle of the final turn, Rendon just had to figure out which way to go – inside or out – with a horse that was full of run.

“I didn’t want to get involved with the speed too early,” said Rendon. “I was able to take hold and sit behind that early duel and when the rail opened, I took advantage of it. That’s what you have to do when the rail opens like that. I was ready to go outside but when the rail opened the way it did, I had to take it. 

“I was happy when I saw those early fractions and where I was sitting just off the speed. I just had to ask him to go, and he did.”

Provocateur, a $600,000 yearling purchase, recorded his second stakes victory and third win in eight career starts. Prior to the Jersey Shore Stakes, the son of Into Mischief-Cayala by Cherokee Run was a fading third in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on June 11.

“This horse’s last race was tough,” said Sciametta. “But the two starts before that he showed his ability in both races.

Provocateur return $10.80 to win.

A little further down and west of Monmouth, Fulsome, a seasoned 4-year-old colt had a date in the Grade 3 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes at Mountaineer.

Fulsome charging to victory in the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes. (Coady Photography)

With Monmouth jockey, Paco Lopez making the trip to pilot Fulsome, the Brad Cox trainee broke from post 4 and was patient in a bunched field of eight. Lopez has him well rated through the backside settling into sixth. Fulsome would angle out near the three eighths pole bidding four deep at the quarter pole taking a short lead in upper stretch. Then Lopez took over at the top of the stretch and would angle in to meet the challenge of rival Derby House to win clear by 1 1/4 lengths.

The time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.48 and the winner paid $3.40.

“Paco rode a good race,” said Cox assistant Ricky Giannini, who usually handles the duties on West Virginia Derby day. “He didn’t have him too far back even though the horse likes to drop back early. Sometimes when he gets clear he loses focus, but Paco said he didn’t. He’s just a notch below the Grade 1-type of horses but he’s very honest and consistent.”

Giannini said several races are on the table for Fulsome—a race at Churchill Downs or the Parx Dirt Mile in September, and the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in October.

A Fulsome homebred for Juddmonte Farms, the bay colt is out of Distorted Humor mare Flourish.

With 14 starts under his girth, Fulsome now boasts eight wins, one second and one third and has surpassed the $1 million mark. His wins include four Grade 3’s and the Oaklawn Stakes. He was also third in the Grade 3 Indiana Derby and fourth in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby.

Back up at Saratoga Race Course, another graded stakes winner and Pletcher trainee, Life Is Good, was getting ready to start in the prestigious Grade 1, $1 million Whitney.

Life Is Good asserted his dominance to come out on top in the nine-furlong the Whitney. There, he dueled down the stretch in dramatic fashion with subsequent Champion Male Sprinter Jackie’s Warrior to come up a neck short in his only previous outing at Saratoga. He went on to dazzle with a win in the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont before closing out the year with a frontrunning score in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar. 

Life Is Good. (NYRA/Coglianese)

The bay colt  broke sharply from the outermost post 5 under Irad Ortiz, Jr. to take a clear lead over his four rivals heading into the first turn. Ortiz, Jr. let Life Is Good widen his advantage down the backstretch, confidently putting 3 1/2 lengths between him and Hot Rod Charlie through and continued to hold the advantage at the top of the lane as Hot Rod Charlie put in a bid to his outside and Happy Saver threatened to his inside. Life Is Good, under right-handed urging from Ortiz, Jr., angled inside and into Happy Saver’s path, causing his foe to move outside and swap places with him.

Despite the sudden switch of positions, Happy Saver kept on to the outside of Life Is Good with Hot Rod Charlie advancing down the center of the track, but Life Is Good proved too much for his rivals and won by two lengths in a final time of 1:48.97. 

Pletcher, who scored his fourth Whitney victory, said Life Is Good brought his best effort despite a hot and humid day at the Spa that saw earlier showers douse the main track. 

“There are so many factors to worry about with heat, the humidity, the track’s been playing pretty demanding, but during the race, it looked like he was always in control,” Pletcher said. “I thought he was in good position. It looked like he kept finding more and I was happy to see him get there.” 

Ortiz, Jr. has been the pilot for five of Life Is Good’s past six races, and said the horse is a perfect professional. 

“He’s a nice horse. He deserves all the credit. He does things easy,” said Ortiz, Jr. “He might make things look easy, but he was running since the three-quarter [pole] all the way to the wire. He was the speed of the race, honestly, he’s fast out of the gate. He broke good and then I just let him do his thing.”

It was the third Whitney score for Ortiz, Jr., who previously guided the New York-bred Diversify [2018] and Improbable [2020] to victory. 

Life Is Good arrived at the Whitney from a strong win in the Grade 2 John A. Nerud on July 2 at Belmont Park, returning to America with authority after a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in March. 

He earned graded victories in the Grade 3 Sham and Grade 2 San Felipe in California before heading east to Pletcher’s barn to put on a performance in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens.

Life Is Good collected his third Grade 1 win, adding to a 3 1/4-length victory over 2021 Horse of the Year Knicks Go in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January at Gulfstream Park and his Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. A $525,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Life Is Good banked $535,000 for his Whitney coup, boosting his total purse earnings to in excess of $4 million. 

Returning $3.70 for a $2 win wager as the post-time favorite, the bay colt’s record now stands at 8-1-0 from 10 lifetime outings. Life Is Good was bred in Kentucky by Gary and Mary West Stable and is owned by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm.

Elliot Walden, President and CEO of co-owner WinStar Farm, holds Life Is Good in high regard, going as far as to say the eight-time winner is as exciting and rewarding as Justify, the colt he co-campaigned to become the 13th winner of the Triple Crown in 2018. 

“It felt like he was the best horse all along and he showed it today,” Walden said of the effort. “It’s real exciting, that’s what we’re here for. These kinds of dreams and these kinds of horses. To have Justify and this horse three years later is just incredible.”

With his victory, Life Is Good earned a berth into the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 5 at Keeneland as part of the “Win and You’re In” qualifying program. 

Naughty Gal. (Janet Garaguso)

To wrap up the week, the apropos Naughty Gal scored a victory in the Grade 3 Adirondack at Saratoga. 

Making her stakes debut in the 6 1/2-furlong sprint, the D, Wayne Lukas trainee entered from a 9 1/4-length romp in a six-furlong maiden special weight on July 4 at Churchill Downs.

Piloted by Luis Saez Naughty Gal broke alertly from post 2 and took command through splits of 22.46 seconds and 46.15 over the fast main track with maiden-winner Apple Picker pressing along the rail. 

A misbehaving Naughty Gal traveled extremely wide through the turn as Janis Joplin, Apple Picker and Sabra Tuff cut the corner and began to make up ground on the runaway pacesetter. Despite racing down the center of the track, Naughty Gal persevered to the wire a 2 1/2-length winner in a final time of 1:18.97. 

Owned by Holy Cow Stables, Naughty Gal was a $350,000 purchase at the OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds In Training and is out of the stakes-winning Spanish Steps mare Conway Two Step.

Naughty Gal provided Lukas a record-extending seventh score in the Adirondack. The Hall of Famer’s past winners include Nervous Baba [1985], Sacahuista [1986], Over All [1987], Pat Copelan [1988], Salty Perfume [1997] and Folklore [2005].

Lukas, who also conditions Grade 3 Schuylerville runner-up Summer Promise, will look to keep the two fillies separated by having Naughty Gal make her next start in Kentucky in either the Grade 1, $500,000 Alcibiades on October 7 at Keeneland or the Grade 3, $300,000 Pocahontas on September 17 at Churchill Downs.

Naughty Gal had a trio of breezes over the Oklahoma training track to prepare for her Spa and stakes debut, which Lukas said was a result of seeing Summer Promise tire late in the Schuylerville.

“I didn’t have her tight enough and I underestimated how this track is. I think I got her beat, but we’ll try to correct that in the Spinaway,” Lukas said. “This one here [Naughty Gal], we pointed for and got a little smarter about what we were going to do. We put a couple of five-eighths [breezes] in her and it paid off.”

Bred in Florida by Loren Nichols, Naughty Gal banked $110,000 in victory while improving her record to 3-2-0-0. She returned $4.90 for a $2 win bet.

This story is a compilation of edited press releases by Keith McCalmont, Mary Eddy and Ryan Martin of NYRA Press Office and Tom Luicci of Monmouth Park with sections written by Maribeth Kalinich
Main photo of Into Mischief by Autry Graham, courtesy of Spendthrift Farm.

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