Gotham (G3) winner Mischevious Alex will stick to sprinting in the $250,000 Woody Stephens (G1), one of five graded stakes on Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (G1) undercard, and heads a short field of five sophomores in the 7-furlong test.
The son of Into Mischief has captured three straight stakes for trainer John Servis. After concluding last year with a 9 3/4-length romp in the 7-furlong Parx Juvenile, Mischevious Alex opened his 3-year-old season with a seven-length romp in the Swale (G3) at Gulfstream Park. The front-running colt edged away to a comfortable triumph in the March 7 Gotham at Aqueduct, scoring by two lengths at a one-turn mile, and Kendrick Carmouche will retain the mount.
Echo Town looks like the main rival. A head second when making his stakes debut in the Bachelor at Oaklawn in late April, the Steve Asmussen-trained Speightstown colt exits a half-length decision in a stakes-quality allowance at Churchill Downs on May 25. Echo Town will stretch out an extra furlongs after making all five career starts at 6-furlongs, and Ricardo Santana Jr. will be up.
No Parole promises to show speed from his innermost post. A smashing winner of his first three starts over Louisiana-bred rivals, the Tom Amoss-trained colt faltered when stepping up in class and distance for the Rebel (G2) in mid-March. The son of Violence cut back to 6-furlongs with a sharp 2 3/4-length tally over entry-level allowance foes at Oaklawn Park last time, and Luis Saez picks up the mount.
Juvenile stakes winner and Grade 3 runner-up Meru, a rallying third to Echo Town in the aforementioned Churchill allowance when making his first start this year, is eligible to improve upon the comebacker. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides for Jorge Duarte Jr. Juvenile stakes victor Shoplifted, unplaced in his last two outings, completes the field.