He wasn’t favored in the betting, but perhaps he should have been. When the real running began, Mischevious Alex left no doubt about his superiority in Saturday’s $150,000 Swale (G3) at Gulfstream Park, dominating his rivals with eye-catching ease.
Entering off a 9 3/4-length romp in the Nov. 5 Parx Juvenile S., Mischevious Alex was clearly ready to roll in the Swale, a 7-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds. Breaking from the rail under Irad Ortiz, Mischevious Alex flashed speed from the start, gamely holding his position on the inside while dueling with longshot Flash Pass through testing fractions of :22.41 and :45.02.
Flash Pass, exhausted by the fast pace, soon threw in the towel. Mischevious Alex, on the other hand, started widening his advantage at will.
Despite racing greenly down the homestretch, switching leads and drifting in, Mischevious Alex was never in danger of being caught. Accelerating eagerly upon Ortiz’s cue, Mischevious Alex roared clear by 4 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole and extended his lead to seven lengths at the finish line, which he reached in a quick 1:22.83.
“I got a perfect trip. He broke so sharp and just sat there and relaxed a little bit,” Ortiz told Gulfstream Park. “He was on the pace and he waited for me to call on him and he was great. He broke so sharp I just went with the flow. I didn’t want to rush him and I didn’t want to take him back, so I just left him where he was happy. He felt so good. He did everything right. He’s got more left in the tank, I think.”
Shivaree tracked Mischevious Alex for the first half of the race but was no match down the homestretch, settling for second by a neck over Green Light Go. Race favorite Untitled, who suffered a poor start, rallied mildly to finish fourth, while Necker Island, Inter Miami, Point Winner, and Flash Pass trailed the field.
Winning trainer John Servis was quick to praise Mischevious Alex’s impressive acceleration. “He’s always been a push-button horse but very green. When we decided to put the blinkers on him (before the Parx Juvenile), that’s when he started to mind his business.”
A son of Into Mischief purchased for $140,000 as a 2-year-old-in-training, Mischevious Alex is owned by Cash Is King and LC Racing. His triumph in the Swale will surely lead racing analysts to laud his merits as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender, though Servis isn’t sure the Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance will be ideal for Mischevious Alex.
“I really think, me personally, a one-turn mile is going to really hit him on the head,” said Servis. “Is he a mile and a quarter horse? I don’t think so.”
Turf sophomores were also in the spotlight on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. In the $100,000 Sweetest Chant S. (G3) for fillies, Cheermeister led from start to finish to spring a 7-1 upset in the mile test. Jockey Emisael Jaramillo perfectly rationed Cheermeister’s speed through fractions of :24.24, :49.57, and 1:13.64, which allowed the daughter of Bodemeister to kick on strongly and hold off a late charge from Micheline to prevail by three-quarters of a length in 1:37.25. Conditioned by Armando De La Cerda, Cheermeister is owned by Teresa Palmer and David J. Palmer.
Later on the card, Jaramillo and Get Smokin nearly pulled off a similar gate-to-wire feat in the $100,000 Dania Beach S., leading into the stretch after carving out fractions of :23.42, :47.28, and 1:11.35. But in the final strides, jockey Paco Lopez produced Field Pass from between runners to rally and win by a neck in 1:35.70. Runner-up in the 2019 With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga, Field Pass is a Maryland-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid trained by Mike Maker and owned by Three Diamonds Farm.