Just how good Maximus Mischief is will be determined Saturday when the undefeated colt gets his first taste of stakes company in the $250,000 Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, a Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep contested at 1 1/8 miles.
A son of Into Mischief, Maximus Mischief was the easiest of winners in two starts earlier this fall at Parx for trainer Butch Reid. He captured the two sprints in wire-to-wire fashion, the first by 8 3/4 lengths and the second by six lengths. He was a prohibitive 1-20 favorite in the latter going seven furlongs, and earned a BRIS Speed rating of 104.
“It’s a big jump with an extra quarter of a mile, but all indications to me is that it shouldn’t be a problem,” Reid said. “We’re asking a lot on this one. It’s the first time shipping and the first time around two turns with the added distance, so he’s going to have to step up.
“I think he’ll come off the pace. He’s never shown any problems in our early preparations going behind horses,” Reid added. “He took dirt and he’s shown no ill effects from that. It’s all part of the learning process for a young horse. We’re looking forward to getting some of those questions answered.”
His main rival, on paper, will be Network Effect, a three-length debut winner at Saratoga who returned to finish second to the highly-regarded Vekoma in the one-mile Nashua (G3) on November 4 for trainer Chad Brown.
Bourbon War won on debut by more than two lengths in an off-the-turf maiden at the Big A going a mile for trainer Mark Hennig on November 14. He was a surprise in the race, winning at odds of 17-1.
“We discussed it Tuesday morning and came to the conclusion that we’d fit with this group,” Hennig said. “The timing is a little less than ideal, but he seems like he’s been sharp and bright since his race, so we figured we’d take a chance.
“He’s a horse who all along I thought would need to run and need more ground. I never anticipated that he’s the horse who would run the race of his life in his first start. I think there’s plenty of upside. The timing is a question mark, but he’s acting like he’s up to it. I think he’ll be up to the challenge.”
Returning on shorter rest, eight days in fact, is Gladiator King, who has won two in a row going five furlongs on the turf at Gulfstream Park West, though he narrowly lost in his last dirt try three back. Jungle Warrior, by Animal Kingdom, won by a head in his debut before finishing fifth in the Summer Stakes (G1), both over the Woodbine turf. He debuts here for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.