Max­imus Mis­chief is best in Rem­sen

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - Jeff Scott

Al­though the Cigar Mile, with its Grade 1 rat­ing and $750,000 purse, was ad­ver­tised as the mar­quee event on clos­ing day of the Aque­duct fall meet, the Rem­sen Stakes (G2) was ar­guably the race that gen­er­ated the most in­ter­est. That’s be­cause the Rem­sen is an early prep for the Ken­tucky Derby (worth 10 qual­i­fy­ing points to the win­ner), and for many rac­ing fans think­ing about the Ken­tucky Derby is what gets them through the long win­ter.

Last Satur­day’s Rem­sen pro­duced an im­pres­sive win­ner in Max­imus Mis­chief. Mak­ing his stakes de­but, the 2-year-old colt re­mained un­de­feated in three starts, pulling away from odd­son fa­vorite Net­work Ef­fect in the stretch to tri­umph by 2¼ lengths. Al­though Max­imus Mis­chief’s pedi­gree doesn’t mark him as a horse likely to rel­ish a mile and a quar­ter – he’s by Into Mis­chief out of a Song and a prayer mare – it’s too early to know for cer­tain how far he re­ally wants to go.

It’s been a while since a Rem­sen win­ner went on to win the Ken­tucky Derby. Back-to­back Rem­sen win­ners Go for Gin (1993) and Thun­der Gulch

(1994) ac­com­plished the feat a quar­ter-cen­tury ago, but the only in-the-money Derby fin­ish by a Rem­sen win­ner since was Blue­grass Cat’s sec­ond in 2006.

The Rem­sen hasn’t been much of a fac­tor in the Ken­tucky Derby in re­cent years, but the 1 1/8-mile race has con­tin­ued to be won by top-class horses. Eight of the last 13 Rem­sen win­ners (and five of the last six) have gone on to win Grade 1 races as 3- or 4-year-olds. They in­clude, since 2010, Catholic Boy (Travers, Bel­mont Derby), Mo Town (Hol­ly­wood Derby), Honor Code (Met Mile, Whit­ney), Over­an­a­lyze (Arkansas Derby) and To Honor and Serve (Wood­ward, Cigar Mile).

Rac­ing re­sumes at Aque­duct to­day with the start of the win­ter meet, which will run through March 31. Forty-six stakes are on the sched­ule, four of them graded: two sprints for older horses (the Tobog­gan on Jan. 19 and the Tom Fool on Mar. 9) and a pair of Ken­tucky Derby preps, the Withers on Feb. 2 and the Gotham on Mar. 9. All four stakes are Grade 3s.

Baf­fert looks to con­tinue Futurity streak

The 2018 graded-stakes sched­ule for 2-year-olds wraps up Satur­day with the run­ning of the Cash Call Futurity and Star­let Stakes at Los Alamitos. Short fields of six are set to go in both Grade 1 races. As usual, Bob Baf­fert will be well-rep­re­sented. In fact, he con­di­tions the top two morn­ing-line fa­vorites in both races.

In the Futurity, a race the Hall of Fame trainer has won 10 times (in­clud­ing the last four), Baf­fert sends out Im­prob­a­ble (65) and Mu­cho Gusto (31), both of whom are com­ing off stakes vic­to­ries. Im­prob­a­ble won the one­mile Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs by 7¼ wi­den­ing lengths. Mu­cho Gusto’s stakes score came in the seven-fur­long Bob Hope Stakes (G3) three weeks ago at Del Mar, a race he won by a length and a half.

The rest of the Futurity field con­sists of Ex­tra Hope (7-2), Duel­ing (61), Sav­agery (8-1) and King of Speed (15-1), a win­ner of two mi­nor stakes.

Baf­fert has “only” won the Star­let four times, most re­cently last year’s run­ning with Dream Tree. On Satur­day, he’ll sad­dle stakes win­ners Chas­ing Yes­ter­day (9-5) and Mother Mother (2-1). Chas­ing Yes­ter­day, a daugh­ter of Tapit, is of spe­cial in­ter­est be­cause she’s a half-sis­ter to Triple Crown win­ner Amer­i­can Pharoah.

Vi­brance (5-2), Oxy Lady (5-1), Enaya Alrabb (12-1) and Sold It (20-1) round out the Star­let field. Oxy Lady won the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes in her most re­cent start. Jeff Scott writes about horse rac­ing Fri­day in the Sarato­gian. He may be reached at utah­[email protected]

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