February 22, 2024

Pretty Mischievous prevails in Rachel Alexandra; Hoosier Philly third

Pretty Mischievous wins the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (Photo by Amanda Hodges-Weir/Hodges Photography)

Sky-high expectations for Hoosier Philly were brought to earth, literally, when the 2-5 favorite dipped awkwardly and stumbled out of the gate in Saturday’s $291,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds. But Godolphin’s Pretty Mischievous soared to a new career high, reeling in stubborn pacesetter Miracle to earn 50 points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Hoosier Philly tried to regroup but checked in a distant third, in a bursting of the bubble. Aside from losing her perfect record, her ambitions of hopping onto the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail are now cooled.

Pretty Mischievous was orchestrating a significant form turnaround, indeed a reversal of the finish of the Nov. 26 Golden Rod (G2). In that prior meeting at Churchill Downs, Hoosier Philly romped, unextended, by five lengths, with Pretty Mischievous a wide-churning third.

While Hoosier Philly had not raced since, Pretty Mischievous took a step forward to win the first of the Fair Grounds prep series, the Dec. 26 Untapable S. Trainer Brendan Walsh skipped the next leg, the Jan. 21 Silverbulletday S., by design, and the Kentucky homebred was ready to deliver another improved effort on Saturday at odds of 8.10-1.

Todd Pletcher shipper Miracle loomed as the controlling speed, and the 13.50-1 chance nearly the made the most of it. Carving out splits of :25.02, :48.85, and 1:13.05, the New York-bred conserved energy in her two-turn debut, as well as her first start in open company.

Pretty Mischievous was well placed in a tracking role by Tyler Gaffalione. Chop Chop, the 3.40-1 second choice, advanced to prompt Miracle. In the process, Chop Chop flanked Pretty Mischievous on the outside, but she could not maintain her position. As Chop Chop began to retreat on the far turn, Pretty Mischievous tipped out.

Miracle was beginning to get away, however, and Pretty Mischievous had to quicken to cover her move swinging for home. Vahva, who cut the corner into the stretch, tried to leverage her ground-saving into a contending position. Yet she didn’t sustain it, leaving the top two to battle it out.

Pretty Mischievous appeared to have more up her sleeve as she dueled with Miracle. Her resolute opponent forced her to produce that little bit extra, and Pretty Mischievous ultimately prevailed by three-quarters of a length.

By finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.15, Pretty Mischievous leap to the top of the Oaks leaderboard with a total of 63 points. Miracle, 7 3/4 lengths clear of the rest, opened her account with 20 Oaks points.

Hoosier Philly, who found herself at or near the back of the compact field early, was still within striking range. But the favorite didn’t look as ominous as usual when asked to improve, and she trudged uncharacteristically one-paced into third. Hoosier Philly added 15 points for a total of 25.

Vahva faded to fourth, picking up 10 points to boost her overall tally to 13. Fifth-placer Chop Chop received five points and now has 17 in all. Knockyoursocksoff was eased after trailing most of the way.

Pretty Mischievous, who rewarded her loyalists with $18.20, has bankrolled $421,310 from her 5-4-0-1 line. The bay won her first two starts sprinting at Churchill Downs last fall, then found Hoosier Philly beyond her at that stage in the Golden Rod. The Mar. 25 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) is likely next, on the way to the Kentucky Oaks on the first Friday in May.

Bred on the same cross as Hoosier Philly, Pretty Mischievous is also by leading sire Into Mischief and out of a Tapit mare. Her dam, Pretty City Dancer, captured the 2016 Spinaway (G1) and Debutante S. Pretty City Dancer is herself a half to Lear’s Princess, best known for upsetting champion Rags to Riches in the 2007 Gazelle (G1).