Kentucky Derby contender profile: Mischevious Alex

March 9th, 2020

From a green-as-can-be 2-year-old to a seemingly unstoppable sophomore, Mischevious Alex has made a ton of progress along the Road to the Kentucky Derby. One major hurdle awaits, and that is the imposing, 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby (G1) itself.

Mischevious Alex showed plenty of potential as a juvenile, but was at times his own worst enemy. Racing for the partnership of Cash is King and LC Racing, who purchased the colt for $140,000, Mischevious Alex was victorious in his debut sprinting 4 1/2 furlongs at Parx Racing. But trainer John Servis was frustrated by a few of Mischevious Alex’s subsequent defeats, including a near miss when third in the 1-mile Sapling S. at Monmouth Park.

Everything changed when Servis equipped Mischevious Alex with blinkers for the 7-furlong Parx Juvenile S. Suddenly running like a pro, Mischevious Alex set a fast pace, blew away his rivals in the homestretch, and won by 9 3/4 lengths over future stakes winner Vanzzy. Three months later Mischevious Alex stepped up into graded stakes company and dominated Gulfstream Park’s 7-furlong Swale (G3) in similar fashion, when he powered clear to score by seven lengths.

“In the Sapling (jockey) Trevor (McCarthy) came back and said, ‘John, this horse should have galloped. I’m just sitting. When I pulled the trigger, I didn’t expect him to move like he did.’ He looped around everybody, opened up three and just pulled himself up,” Servis said. “So we knew the talent was there.”

Mischevious Alex reiterated the latter point when he stretched back out to a mile in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct, a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep that awarded 50 qualification points to the winner. Always prominent in the battle for early supremacy, Mischevious Alex took command halfway through the race and stayed on steadily down the stretch to post a two-length victory in 1:38.80.

But winning a one-turn mile like the Gotham is a far cry from winning the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby, and there’s no guarantee Mischevious Alex’s sprinting speed will translate to success on the first Saturday in May. As a son of Into Mischief, out of a Speightstown mare, Mischevious Alex is bred like a miler, and even Servis has questioned the colt’s stamina.

“I really think, me personally, a one-turn mile is going to really hit him on the head,” Servis said after the Swale. “Is he a mile and a quarter horse? I don’t think so.”

On the bright side, Mischevious Alex has been a different horse since blinkers were added, and his comfortable victory in the Gotham was a step in the right direction. Maybe—just maybe—this talented colt will defy his breeding and exceed expectations in the Run for the Roses.