The field for Saturday's $750,000 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park represented some of the best California-based prospects for the 2008 Kentucky Derby -- and the results indicate it could be a bit of a donnybrook to sort them out in the next few months.
At the wire, it was 14-1 longshot Into Mischief out front of the favorite, Colonel John, by a comfortable 1 1/4 lengths. Another highly regarded contender, previously undefeated Massive Drama, settled for third, another 1/2 length back.
Into Mischief, a Kentucky-bred colt by Harlan's Holiday, stalked the pace set by Eaton's Gift, took the lead at the top of the stretch and had plenty left when jockey Victor Espinoza set him down for the drive. He completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.82.
Despite his long odds, Into Mischief came into the race off a second-place finish behind Massive Drama in the Hollywood Preview. He now has two wins from three starts.
"I told Victor to let him run on out of there and then just do what you want and for right now, that's better," said winning trainer Richard Mandella. "Hopefully he will get smarter as we go. I'm going to enjoy this today and not worry about where he will be going."
Colonel John and Massive Drama ran well enough to encourage their connections and provide a preview of the early-winter Derby preps at Santa Anita.
And Kent Desormeaux, aboard Massive Drama, also was looking to the 3-year-old wars for his mount. "We have to regroup and see if we can change the outcome next time," he said. "It's unfortunate, but it was a $750,000 schooling race."
In other 2-year-old action:
-- Sok Sok stalked the pace set by Harlan's Fortune in Saturday's $100,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, then opened up like an odds-on favorite should to win by 8 3/4 lengths over Liberty Bull. Ben and the Twin finished third. Sok Sok, a Florida-bred colt by Trippi, ran the 6 furlongs in 1:09.44 with Shaun Bridgmohan up for trainer Steve Asmussen -- the jockey-trainer duo that won six races on the card, including all four of the day's stakes races. Sok Sok won for the third time in six starts. His other races included fourth-place finishes in the Sanford at Saratoga and the Iroquois at Churchill Downs in his last start. "This horse is very athletic," Bridgmohan said of Sok Sok. "If you need him to be there, he'll be there … He does what you ask him to."
The 2-year-old fillies:
-- Blitzing jumped quickly to the fore in Saturday's $100,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds in New Orleans and blitzed to win by 7 1/2 lengths. Syriana's Song was second and La Wildcat finished third. Blitzing, a Florida-bred Montbrook filly, got the 6 furlongs in 1:10.79. She showed promise early in the Saratoga meeting, finishing third in the Schuylerville, but then ran a well-beaten sixth in the Spinaway. After a layoff, Asmussen brought Blitzing back to win an allowance event in late October at Churchill Downs in her last start. "She has been here since the beginning of November and she has been training wonderfully," Asmussen said. "She has changed the most physically. She has just matured."
-- Ask the Moon came to the leaders at the top of the stretch in Saturday's $50,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship at Laurel Park and easily ran away to win by 4 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Hartigan. Kosmo's Buddy saved third after showing the way into the turn. Ask the Moon, a daughter of Malibu Moon, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:40.16 for jockey Hiram Rivera. She now has won three of six starts. "The results speak for themselves," said winning trainer Ned Allard.
-- Kadira justified her favorite's role in Saturday's $50,000 Gowell Stakes at Turfway Park, romping to an 8 1/2-lengths victory. Birdgirl was best of the rest with Absolutely Cindy completing the trifecta. Kadira, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Kafwain out of the Rahy filly Raw Gold, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.68 with Larry Melancon aboard.
Greg's Gold, a disappointment in the Breeders' Cup Sprint and then third in the Vernon Underwood in his last start, got back on the winning trail with an easy, front-running win in Saturday's $100,000 On Trust Handicap for Cal-breds. Ridden with total confidence by Victor Espinoza, the 6-year-old Lake George gelding finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Big Bad Leroybrown, who appeared to be fighting jockey Tyler Baze at midstretch before angling out for his final push. Add Heat was third. Greg's Gold ran the 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:26.78 and finished ridden out.
Also Saturday, Meetingwithdestiny made a bold move around the turn in a grassy, 1 1/16-miles maiden special-weight event, moved to the leaders at mid-stretch and then flattened out to finish third behind Rhetorically and Catastaire. The favorite, Chevin, faded from a pace-stalking position to finish fifth. Meetingwithdestiny now has two thirds and a fourth from four starts for Bongo Racing Stable.
On Friday, Curiously Sweet broke last of six in the $100,000 Cat's Cradle Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares but quickly pulled herself into contention, went to the lead at the top of the lane and got home first, 1 length to the good of Kalookan Year. Fun Logic was third. Curiously Sweet, the odds-on favorite, won for the third straight time, running 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:28.15. Patrick Valenzuela had the mount for trainer John Sadler. "When I asked her in the stretch, she picked it up nice," Valenzuela said. "Never had to hit her." Sadler said Curiously Sweet will go to the Sunshine Millions.
Tres Dream rallied from last to win Saturday's $100,000 Esplanade Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 3/4 lengths over Chatham. Valid Lil was third and the favorite, Atlanta Highway, finished fourth. Tres Dream, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Chester House, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.62 with Shaun Bridgmohan up for Steve Asmussen. She won for the fourth time in nine starts this year and fifth in 12 career tries. "The race set up for us very well," said Bridgmohan, referring to a fast early pace. "When she switched leads, she just went to work."
Saturday's $100,000 Bonapaw Stakes came off the turf but that didn't seem to bother the favorite, Stormin Baghdad, who led early, took back, then came again to win by a 1/2 length over Natural Speed. Going Wild finished third. Stormin Baghdad, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred colt by Stormin Fever, ran the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.03, also benefiting from the attention of Bridgmohan and Asmussen. He won for the sixth time in 13 starts.
Good Looker R F stalked the pace in Saturday's $121,500 La Coneja Handicap for New Mexico-bred, 3-year-old fillies, surged to the lead with a furlong to run and won by 2 1/2 lengths over Shezapirate. Lady Lance finished third. Good Looker R F, a daughter of Silver Season, ran 5 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:03.9 under Ken Tohill.
Ravalo led most of the way in Saturday's $75,000 Christmas Stakes, drawing off in the stretch to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Coach Jimi Lee was second and Cowboy Hardware finished third. Ravalo, a 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred gelding by Mutakddim, got the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.19 under Dana Whitney.
King Justin dueled for the lead in Saturday's $45,000 Cactus Wren Handicap for Arizona-breds, got clear to a big lead on the turn and held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Kingsburg. Corporal Tillman finished third and the favorite, Blackbird, finished last and was vanned off. King Justin, a 6-year-old son of Red, finished the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.39 under Jocelyne Kenny.