A year ago, Chuck Zacney thought he’d be headed to Louisville in early May with a mischievously-named son of Into Mischief, a colt that showed an affinity for Aqueduct. Maximus Mischief had won the Remsen (G2) and finished third in the Holy Bull (G2), bringing to mind memories of 2005 and Afleet Alex, the horse that did bring him to the Derby, and that did win the Preakness (G1) and the Belmont S. (G1).

Those 2019 dreams were thwarted by injury, and Maximus Mischief was retired after his fourth start, the Holy Bull.

But as ever in horse racing, hope springs eternal, and back at Aqueduct on Mar. 7, Zacney and his partners are back on the Derby trail, this time with a horse whose name recalls the alliterative monikers of Maximus Mischief and Afleet Alex.

Mischevious Alex wins the Gotham Stakes
Mischevious Alex wins the Gotham Stakes (Coglianese Photos)

Another son of Into Mischief, Mischevious Alex pretty much guaranteed himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a two-length win in the Gotham (G3), earning 50 qualifying points and a tie for third on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

As he was for the Remsen win, Zacney was joined in the winner’s circle by his son Alex.

“We first saw this horse when we were in Florida visiting Maximus,” said Alex. “He was on the farm, and he had a great workout, so we followed him to the sale, and that’s how we got him. If we hadn’t been visiting Maximus, we probably wouldn’t have him.”

Purchased from the April 2019 OBS sale of two-year-olds in training, Mischevious Alex is by Into Mischief and out of the Speightstown mare White Pants Night.

“The first thing we liked about him is that he’s by Into Mischief,” said the elder Zacney. “Speightstown on the bottom interested us, too.”

Expecting to have to go about $250,000, Zacney was pleasantly surprised when the hammer fell at $140,000. The bay colt was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and is owned by Cash is King Stable and LC Racing.

The colt’s name has attracted social media attention in much the same that American Pharoah did, and as it turns out, the story of the name is not dissimilar.

“I rushed it, and I screwed it up,” confessed Zacney.

“I had all the letters; I just didn’t get them in the right order.”

Mischevious Alex shipped to New York from trainer John Servis’ barn in Florida, where five weeks ago he won the Swale (G3) by seven lengths. In November, he crushed the Parx Juvenile by 9 3/4 lengths. His only finish out of the top three was on the turf at Laurel last September.

“The Swale win was really emotional for me,” said Zacney. “To come back and get this, and to share it with my son, who really loves the game.”

Earlier on the card, Cash is King and LC Racing won the Stymie S. with Diamond King.

“It’s been a really good day,” said Zacney. “And coming back to New York in four weeks [for the Wood Memorial (G2)] makes a whole lot of sense.”

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