Photo Courtesy of: A. Coglianese
Trainer John Servis will ship a trio of top contenders for the Grade 3 Gotham card on March 7 at Aqueduct Racetrack led by Kentucky Derby hopeful Mischevious Alex in the $300,000 Gotham along with Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool chance Wentz and $125,000 Stymie hopeful Diamond King.
Cash Is King and LC Racing’s Mischevious Alex is undefeated in a pair of seven furlong stakes sprints since adding blinkers for a 9 3/4-length score in the Parx Juvenile on November 5 which was followed by a seven-length romp in his sophomore debut in the Grade 3 Swale on February 1 at Gulfstream Park.
A winner at first asking on June 25 at Parx, the Into Mischief bay just missed in his second start when second by a neck at Laurel ahead of a troubled third under Trevor McCarthy in his stakes debut in the Sapling at Monmouth Park on September 1.
“He should have won his second start, but he got himself in a bit of a jackpot and ended up checking pretty hard. He fell back and came running but it was definitely a winning race,” said Servis. “In the Sapling, Trevor thought he moved a little too soon with him. He got to the lead and then pulled himself up and got caught late.”
Next out, Mischevious Alex finished off-the-board in his turf debut in the Laurel Futurity on September 21. The talented bay exited his grass effort in good order and returned to action sporting blinkers for the first time in his Parx Juvenile romp which garnered an 87 Beyer Speed Figure.
“The grass try was just a lack of anywhere to run and we figured we’d try it and see if he liked it. Obviously, he didn’t care for it,” said Servis. “I breezed him again after that and he breezed good but he wasn’t focused. So, I went ahead and put the blinkers on him and he’s been great ever since.”
After recording a lifetime best 93 Beyer for his Swale score, Servis said Mischevious Alex will continue to race in blinkers.
“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. As good as he’s running with the blinkers on, I’m not going to take them off,” said Servis.
Mischevious Alex will look to pick up his first Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the Gotham which offers 50-20-10-5 to the top-four finishers. Servis said his well-traveled bay, who has posted a record of 3-1-1 from six starts at four different tracks, should have no issues with the Big A’s one-turn mile.
“Other than turf, he seems to run on anything. He should handle the one-turn no problem and hopefully we can try him two turns after that,” said Servis. “If he runs in the Gotham like he ran in his last two races, we’d try one of the Derby preps going two turns and see how he handles it.”
Diamond King, also owned by Cash Is King and LC Racing, will make his seasonal debut in the $125,000 Stymie, a one-turn mile for older horses. The 5-year-old multiple graded-stakes placed Quality Road bay boasts a record of 17-5-4-3 and will be making his seasonal and Aqueduct debut off a last-out fifth in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap on October 26 at Belmont Park.
Servis said Diamond King, who captured the 2017 Heft at Laurel and the 2018 Federico Tesio at Pimlico, is training well at Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida.
“He’s training very good and we’re anxious to get him back racing” said Servis. “His last race came up tough, hooking Maximum Security. We decided to give him a little break after that and freshen him for the spring. He’ll make his first start back in the Stymie.”
Main Line Racing Stable’s Wentz, a lightly-raced 5-year-old chestnut, finished fourth last out in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint on May 18 at Pimlico. That effort came on the heels of a career-best 99 Beyer earned in an optional-claiming sprint score at Keeneland under the care of Servis’ son Tyler.
Servis said the Super Saver horse has trained forwardly at Palm Meadows and will make his anticipated return in the Grade 3 Tom Fool, a six-furlong sprint for older horses.
“He’s one of those horses that as soon as we get him on track, something pops up and we end up having to stop on him,” said Servis. “His race at Keeneland was a big race out there for my son. He ran huge that day. He came back at Pimlico and he just didn’t run his race. He came out of it with some issues, so we decided to give him a rest.”
Wentz posted a half-mile breeze in 48.05 seconds on Tuesday on the Palm Meadows dirt.
“We gave him the time and he’s come back great,” said Servis. “He breezes good in the morning and he’s very focused. He’s plenty fit enough and we’re looking for a big effort from him.”
Kendrick Carmouche, currently sixth in the standings with 25 wins, will have the call on all three Servis trainees. Servis and Carmouche have combined for a record of 12-15-14 in 92 career stakes starts.
“Kendrick will ride all three of them. We have a longstanding relationship with Kendrick. He’s won a lot of races for me and it’s nice to have the opportunity to put him on a few nice horses,” said Servis.