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Belmont At The Big A Preview | Forty Niner Stakes 2023: Everso Mischievous Tries Graded Company
Racing at The Big A (Jason Moran/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Belmont At The Big A Preview | Forty Niner Stakes 2023: Everso Mischievous Tries Graded Company

Qatar Racing’s stakes-winner Everso Mischievous will make his first start in graded company in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Forty Niner, a one-mile test for 3-year-olds and up that was previously run as the Kelso, at Belmont at the Big A.

The Forty Niner, slated as Race 10, is one of three stakes on Saturday’s lucrative 11-race program, including the Grade 2, $250,000 Mother Goose in Race 8, and the listed $135,000 Awad in Race 9. First post is 12:05 p.m. Eastern.

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Trained by two-time Eclipse Award-winner Brad Cox, the sophomore son of Into Mischief was last seen winning the seven-furlong Harrods Creek on September 23 at Churchill Downs where he raced one length off the pace in second under Cristian Torres before taking command at the stretch call and drawing off to a 3 1/4-length victory in a final time of 1:22.15.

The win came in the bay’s stakes debut after a narrow allowance score in August at Saratoga Race Course by a neck over Cape Trafalgar. He has never finished worse than second in five lifetime outings and was a winner at second asking on May 6 at Churchill by 2 1/4 lengths over subsequent stakes-winner Northern Invader.

Out of the graded stakes-winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Ever So Clever, Everso Mischievous initially sold for $600,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale before selling for $85,000 at the 2022 Keeneland November Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Torres retains the mount from post 2.

Built Wright Stables’ graded stakes-winning Maryland-bred Double Crown [post 1, Jose Gomez] looks to defend his title in this event on the heels of a closing third-place effort in the Maryland Million Classic on October 14 at Laurel Park. Trained by Ray Ginter, Jr., the son of Bourbon Courage won the Polynesian against open company two starts back at Pimlico Race Course with a driving finish up the rail. 

“He just got caught in the Maryland Million and he’s probably in the best form he’s been in,” said owner Lynn Cash of Built Wright Stables. “I think the lack of Lasix moves him forward compared to other horses. The Polynesian set up just right and the jock went up the rail.”

Double Crown scored in last year’s running of this event, then named the Kelso, with a tidy off-the-pace move in the stretch to defeat Baby Yoda by 1 3/4 lengths just one week after finishing fourth in the Maryland Million. This time around, Double Crown will have two weeks of rest heading into the Forty Niner, something Cash said suits the 6-year-old bay well.

“It’s two weeks’ rest this year instead of seven days last year, and he doesn’t run as well with a long rest, so this is really good,” said Cash. “It’s enough rest to freshen him. He’s a blue collar horse for sure. He just gets in there and gives you all he has.”

In addition to the Kelso and Polynesian, Double Crown boasts stakes victories in the Roar and Carry Back as a sophomore at Gulfstream Park and Grade 3 placings that season when third in the Smile Sprint at Gulfstream and second in the Chick Lang at Pimlico. He boasts field-best earnings of $753,685 through a record of 40-8-9-5.

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Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown sends out a strong pair in Klaravich Stables’ dual graded stakes-placed Accretive [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Michael Caruso and Michael Dubb’s multiple stakes-winning New York-bred Dr Ardito [post 5, Manny Franco].

Accretive enters from a game runner-up finish to top older dirt male Cody’s Wish in the Grade 2 Vosburgh sprinting seven furlongs here on October 1. The 4-year-old Practical Joke gelding set the tempo under regular pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. and kept on well into the stretch, but was outfinished late as his foe completed the course in 1:21.83.

As a sophomore, Accretive was a strong winner on debut at Belmont Park ahead of a narrow defeat to Gunite in the Grade 2 Amsterdam at Saratoga Race Course. He finished off-the-board in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial to close out his campaign before returning almost a year later to win a pair of allowance events this summer at the Spa.

Dr Ardito will look to regroup after a distant sixth-place finish in the Parx Dirt Mile over a sloppy and sealed Parx main track on September 23. The gelded son of Liam’s Map has posted two stakes triumphs this year at one mile against fellow state-breds, taking the Haynesfield in February at the Big A and the Evan Shipman in August at the Spa. Bred by Fred W. Hertrich, III and John D. Fielding, Dr Ardito has banked $379,850 in earnings through a consistent 11-7-1-0 record.

Ronald Stewart’s Film Star [post 4, Jose Lezcano] arrives at the Forty Niner in impressive form as he makes his ninth outing for trainer Linda Rice after being haltered for $75,000 out of a win in April at Keeneland.

The Flatter bay was most recently second to Zandon in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Woodward on October 1 here with a stalking trip under Jose Ortiz. He held a slim lead at the top of the lane after tracking in second throughout the race, but could not fend off the oncoming Zandon and was defeated 4 1/4 lengths while holding place by a neck over Law Professor. That effort followed a pair of gate-to-wire scores traveling nine furlongs against winners.

“He came out very well,” said Rice. “It looks like there’s a lot of speed signed up, maybe that will work to his advantage. He’s had the lead going a mile and an eighth, but he won’t going a mile.” 

Never worse than second in each of his starts since being claimed, Film Star had also been entered in Saturday’s nine-furlong Grade 2 Fayette at Keeneland, but will run in the Forty Niner according to Rice.

Completing the field are the pair of multiple graded stakes-placed Synthesis [post 8, Isaac Castillo] and five-time winner Business Model [post 7, Dylan Davis] for owner/trainer David Jacobson; and Liberty House Racing, Twenty-Two Stable, Club Sixty Five Racing, Take a Shot Stables and East Coast Partners’ Swiftsure [post 6, Kendrick Carmouche], who enters off a pair of wins for trainer Horacio De Paz.