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BALTIMORE, MD – 7 weeks after conquering the course and distance in his stakes debut, Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s homebred Grade 3 winner Mighty Mischief returns to historic Pimlico Race Course as the horse to beat in Sunday’s $100,000 Concern.
The fifth running of the 6-furlong Concern for 3-year-olds, honoring the first Maryland-bred winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), is among 4 stakes worth $375,000 in purses on an 11-race Independence Day holiday program.
Both the $100,000 Lite the Fuse for 3-year-olds and up sprinting 6 furlongs and $100,000 Caesar’s Wish going 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares 3 and up are part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series. The $75,000 Jameela for Maryland-bred/sired females 3 and older is scheduled for 5 furlongs on the grass.
Sunday’s program also includes a mandatory payout of the Rainbow 6, which carries a Maryland state record carryover jackpot of $1.351 million into the return of live racing Friday. First race post time is 12:40 PM.
Mighty Mischief, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, extended his win streak to three races with a front-running 1 1/4-length triumph over multiple stakes-winning stablemate Jaxon Traveler in the Chick Lang (G3) May 15, on the undercard of the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1).
It was a visually impressive performance, even for Heiligbrodt, who stayed home for his grandson’s appearance in the Texas state baseball tournament game but made sure to watch as one of his horses took the 6-furlong Chick Lang for the third straight year. He also won in 2020 with Yaupon and in 2019 with Mitole, who was named that year’s older male sprint champion.
By Into Mischief out of the Super Saver mare Wealth Creation – whose dam, Lunargal, was a stakes winner for the Heiligbrodts in 2005 – Mighty Mischief has won by 9 combined lengths during his streak, all in gate-to-wire fashion. He led most of the way before being caught late and losing by less than a length in his February 7 unveiling over a muddy track.
“We’ve raced a long time with a lot of nice horses,” Heiligbrodt said. “One of our old racehorses’ pedigrees was in the mare. My wife bought her in foal to Into Mischief and he was the baby. We raised him.
“He’s always been a nice horse. He’s been very calm but he’s been very fast from the beginning. He lost 1 race at Oaklawn, which I didn’t think he could lose, but I think the track was off that day,” he added. “But, he’s a nice horse. I look for him to run good.”
Mighty Mischief has breezed five times at Churchill Downs since the Chick Lang, most recently going an easy 1/2-mile in 51 seconds June 27 following 5 furlongs in 1:01.20 7 days earlier. Ricardo Santana Jr., up for all of his races, will be in town to ride from Post 1 in a field of six.
“We need a race. (Asmussen) wants to go ahead and run him at Saratoga, so having the listed race there was really nice for us,” Heiligbrodt said. “Obviously I want to win, but we do need a place to race. We’d been looking at grass and I really didn’t want to run him on the grass. I like to watch dirt fly. I like to go fast.”
Mighty Mischief went unraced at 2, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted breeding, racing, and training across the country. To date, he has earned $255,200 in purse money.
“Last year was a total mess. It screwed up my whole program. I had to start and stop on horses because I had no place to race them,” Heiligbrodt said. “I like to run early and my horses are generally ready to run, and I am way behind. I have horses from last year that I still haven’t started. But, we’ll catch up.”
Mighty Mischief Makes the Grade in Chick Lang
Among the competition for Mighty Mischief is John Worsley-owned and trained Singlino, who beat subsequent stakes winners Kenny Had a Notion and Maythehorsebwithu in last fall’s First State Dash at Delaware Park. Singlino would go on to run second to Jaxon Traveler in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity and third in the Heft at Laurel Park but has gone winless in his last 6, including twice this year.
A popular maiden special weight winner April 23 at Keeneland in his second start, Jun H. Park and Della Nash’s Sibelius, like Mighty Mischief also lightly raced, is entered to make his fourth career start. Currently based at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Sibelius has been freshened after running last of five in an off-the-turf Penn Mile (G3) May 28 at Penn National.
Sibelius debuted March 21 at Laurel Park, running second by 3/4 of a length to Cry No More, who went on to beat older horses in a restricted allowance May 6 at Pimlico and was also nominated to the Concern by trainer Kieron Magee.
“He’s a pretty nice horse,” trainer Jerry O’Dwyer said. “He was second to the horse of Kieron’s that has won since. He went out to Keeneland and broke his maiden in good order there, so we ran him in the Penn Mile. It came off the turf, the track was sloppy and he kind of jumped a bit of water going down the back and never got going after that.
“We gave him a little bit of time to reassess and get everything back in order,” he added. “We’re going back to what we know, sprinting him on the dirt.”
A gelded son of 2016 Iroquois (G3) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Not This Time, Sibelius shows 2 timed breezes at Timonium since his last race. Sheldon Russell is named to ride from Post 4.
“He’s a horse that’s very unassuming in the morning. He just gallops around there like an old pony, but you can see his talent when you put him alongside another horse and watch him breeze,” O’Dwyer said. “He’s shown us plenty in that sense. He wakes up when you put him in the starting gate and things like that.
“We did like him. We try not to ship them unless we know we’re tied on. He did us good that day at Keeneland and we think he’s going to be a nice horse for the rest of the year,” he added. “He’s a gelding so if we can keep him happy, healthy and sound he’ll be around with us for a long time.”
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Mopo Racing’s Alwaysinahurry was fourth by a length in his season debut going 6 furlongs June 9 at Delaware Park, his first race since finishing fifth behind Jaxon Traveler in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity December 5. Trained by Dale Capuano, he was also second last year behind stablemate Kenny Had a Notion in the Maryland Million Nursery.
“We gave him off and brought him back and he ran in a really good race in Delaware and ran a good fourth,” Capuano said. “He’s doing really well and we’ll see how he fits there.”
Breeze Easy’s Roderick has won twice for trainer Wesley Ward from 7 starts, 5 of them in stakes, including a third in the 6 1/2-furlong Nyquist last November at Keeneland. Sixth in the Hutcheson March 6 at Gulfstream Park to launch his 2021 campaign, Roderick stumbled at the break and lost rider Joel Rosario in his most recent outing, the 6-furlong Gold Fever May 9 at Belmont Park.
Three Two Zone, second to multiple stakes winner Beren in an off-the-turf Paradise Creek May 30 at Belmont Park, completes the field.
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