September 24, 2023

Pretty Mischievous tops eight-filly Acorn; Amazing Grace back against males in Belmont Gold Cup

Pretty Mischievous with Tyler Gaffalione riding wins the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs (Photo by Horsephotos.com)

Pretty Mischievous will look to maintain her position at the head of the three-year-old filly class in the $500,000 Acorn (G1) at Belmont Park on Friday.

A winner in five of seven starts, including a last-out score by a neck in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1), for which she started at overlaid odds of 10-1, Pretty Mischievous will break from post 6 in the field of eight. The Acorn was lengthened this year from one mile to 1 1/16 miles.

After running second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) two back, Pretty Mischievous was equipped with blinkers for the Kentucky Oaks, and it seemed to make a difference.

“I think they helped her to focus a little bit better maybe at the end of the race,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “I had a pretty good idea that they weren’t going to have a negative effect, so that was the main thing. I knew she wouldn’t under perform with them.”

One of the biggest surprises of Kentucky Derby weekend was Munnys Gold‘s head loss as the 2-5 favorite in the seven-furlong Eight Belles (G2), her first setback in four outings. The daughter of Munnings had won her three previous starts by a combined margin of 38 lengths.

Chad Brown has entered three, including Accede, who finished 1 3/4 lengths adrift of Red Carpet Ready and Munnys Gold in the Eight Belles. Randomized was last seen breaking her maiden by 5 1/2 lengths at Aqueduct on March 31, while Busanda S. winner Occult never factored when fifth of six as the Gazelle (G3) favorite in early April.

Also of note are Dorth Vader, unplaced twice since springing a 46-1 upset of the Davona Dale (G2), and Goodgirl Badhabits, a blowout winner of her two starts at Laurel by a combined margin of 23 lengths.

The German-bred mare Amazing Grace brings notable experience facing males to the table when she faces a dozen such rivals in the $200,000 Belmont Gold Cup (G2) over two miles on the Widener turf.

A Group 2 winner against fillies and mares in Germany last term, Amazing Grace also placed against the boys in the Grosser Preis Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (G1) and Preis von Europa (G1), the latter won by eventual Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Rebel’s Romance.

In two starts since her importation, Amazing Grace was a late-closing winner of the Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream and fourth in the Sheepshead Bay (G2) when caught behind a dreadfully slow pace.

“I know she stays,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “She ran below form last time. She’s better than that.”

Among the foreign raiders is the Godolphin homebred Siskany, second by a neck to Broome in the Dubai Gold Cup (G2) two back and fifth in a tough renewal of the Yorkshire Cup (G2) last month.

British Royalty and Strong Tide will look to improve on their respective second- and third-place efforts in the 2022 Gold Cup, while the American contingent also includes former turf champion Channel Maker and Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) runner-up The Grey Wizard.

Several contenders with graded or group form on the flat have been competing over hurdles of late, including Barbados, L’Imperator, High Definition, and Cross Border.

The nightcap on the 11-race card is the $200,000 Intercontinental (G3) for fillies and mares over six furlongs on the inner turf.

Bubble Rock, Poppy Flower, and Goin’ Good recently finished in that order in the License Fee S., while Bay Storm owns a 5-3-1-1 record over the Bemont turf and exits a second to Caravel in the Unbridled Sidney S. at Churchill.

Another worthy of attention is Amy C, victorious in the Senator Ken Maddy S. and Las Cienegas (G3) in her last two starts, both at Santa Anita.