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Make Mischief Makes Turf Debut Vs NY-Breds | 2022 John Hettinger Stakes Preview & FREE Picks
Make Mischief (NYRA)

Make Mischief Makes Turf Debut Vs NY-Breds | 2022 John Hettinger Stakes Preview & FREE Picks

Aaron previews the 2022 John Hettinger Stakes at Belmont at the Big A, then gives his top picks and longshots. Already a Grade 1-placed and multiple stakes winner on dirt, Make Mischief makes her turf debut against her fellow New York-breds in the Friday feature. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

Gary Barber’s Grade 1-placed Make Mischief will make her first outing over the grass in Friday’s $125,000 John Hettinger, a nine-furlong inner turf test for New York-bred fillies and mares 3-years-old and up, at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, Make Mischief was set to make her turf bow last out in the restricted Yaddo Handicap on August 26 at Saratoga Race Course, but heavy rain forced the race onto a sloppy and sealed main track.

After allowing Wasp to set the tempo for the first half-mile of the one-mile test, Make Mischief easily took command at the top of the lane under a confident Dylan Davis and coasted home a geared down 8 1/2-length winner over returning rival Ice Princess.

“She’s doing very well. She was definitely superior in the Yaddo. From the beginning, we always thought highly of her. She’s made over $700,000 and she’s been good to us,” said Casse.

Out of the Speightstown mare Speightful Lady, the 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief is a half-sister to four winners on the turf, something Casse said gives him hope that she will take to the lawn.

“We’ve been anxious to try her on the turf. If you look at her siblings, they’ve enjoyed the turf,” said Casse. “Into Mischiefs can do anything, so we’re anxious to give her a try.”

Make Mischief has been a model of consistency in her three seasons of racing, hitting the board in 15-of-20 starts. She kicked off her career with a debut score sprinting five furlongs in June 2020 at Belmont Park before earning consecutive stakes placings in the Grade 3 Schuylerville, Grade 2 Adirondack and Seeking the Ante.

As a sophomore, she moved to the barn of Chris Englehart for her first four outings of the season, going 3-for-4 and picking up her first stakes victory in the Maddie May. Returning to Casse that April, she earned two more graded placings with third-place efforts in the Grade 2 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs and Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont where she was defeated just 1 1/2 lengths by multiple graded stakes winner Search Results. She went on to finish second, beaten a neck, in the Fleet Indian against state-breds at Saratoga before finishing out the year with a third in the Empire Distaff Handicap that fall.

This year, Make Mischief has continued her good form, finishing on-the-board in 4-of-5 outings that began with a dominant 10 1/4-length optional claiming score in April at the Big A. She captured the Critical Eye Handicap at Belmont two starts later before finishing third in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney at Gulfstream Park and subsequently scoring in the Yaddo.

Bred by Avanti Stable, Make Mischief will exit post 2 in rein to regular pilot Dylan Davis.

Trainer Jorge Abreu will hope to see Runaway Rumour find her best stride again as she searches for her first win since July 2021.

A homebred for Larry Goichman, Runaway Rumour was last seen finishing a close second in the Violet against open company on September 3 at Monmouth Park. There, she rated 2 1/2 lengths off the pace under Luis Cardenas and went four-wide in the turn before battling with Flighty Lady and the victorious graded stakes winner Vigilantes Way down the stretch to come up just a half-length shy of the victory.

“She’s doing well,” Abreu said. “I think her being so wide for all the race kind of compromised her a bit, but she got beat by a good horse, so it’s not like she got beat by an allowance horse. She got beat by a nice, talented horse. I think she’s coming back. I want to get her head back on track.”

Abreu said he had considered trying Runaway Rumour in the Grade 3 Athenia on Saturday at the Big A, but opted to bring her back against state-breds for the first time since an even fifth-place finish in the Mount Vernon in May at Belmont. 

“She needs to win. She always shows up and she always run her race, but she has to come up with a win,” Abreu said. “I was going to run her in the Athenia, but I said, ‘let me give her a little class relief and see.’ You’ll have one or two that can run, but I think she’s classy enough that she can handle the New York-bred division.”

A 4-year-old daughter of Flintshire, Runaway Rumour won her first three outings as a sophomore in 2021, including her lone stakes victory in the Wild Applause at Belmont. She went on the earn her first graded placing with a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at the Spa en route to on-the-board finishes in the Pebbles and Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont.

Flavien Prat is tasked with the mount from post 7.

Conditioner Christophe Clement will be represented by two runners in Michael Dubb and Michael J. Caruso’s Classic Lady [post 1, Joel Rosario] and Harrell Ventures, Kenneth Beitz, Gail Beitz and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Classic Colors [post 3, Jose Ortiz].

Classic Lady, a 7-year-old Jimmy Creed dark bay, will return to state-bred company after finishing an even sixth last out in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial on July 12 at Parx Racing. One start prior, she was defeated a nose by Giacosa in the Mount Vernon after setting the pace. Classic Lady is looking for her third stakes victory after scoring wins in the 2020 Dayatthespa at Saratoga and the Ticonderoga last year at Belmont.

Classic Colors, a 4-year-old Street Sense filly, makes her stakes debut for Clement on the heels of a troubled fourth-place finish facing open company in a first-level allowance on September 2 at the Spa. There, she closed well from eight lengths off the pace in 10th-of-11 to be defeated just 2 1/2 lengths despite a poor break where she was squeezed and lost ground. She was a narrow winner of a second-level state-bred optional claimer in May at Belmont.

Completing the field are four-time winner Marvelous Maude [post 4, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] for trainer Chad Brown; the Andrew Williams-trained stakes-placed Vienna Code [post 5, Eric Cancel]; Grade 3-placed Ice Princess [post 6, Luis Saez] for conditioner Danny Gargan; and last-out winners Pure Bode [post 8, Jose Lezcano] for trainer Jim Ryerson and Finest Work [post 9, Manny Franco] for George Weaver.

The John Hettinger, named in honor of the late New York Racing Association, Inc. board member who greatly supported thoroughbred racing and breeding in New York State, is slated as Race 7 on Friday’s nine-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.