Maximus Mischief is best in Remsen
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]