Into Mischief Filly Gets First Oaks Win for Walsh, Godolphin and Gaffalione

Pretty Mischievous | Horsephotos


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Godolphin homebred and 'TDN Rising Star' Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) stayed out of trouble with a perfect, stalking trip from her far outside draw and gamely fended off Repole Stable's Gambling Girl (Dialed In) in dramatic fashion to capture Friday's GI Kentucky Oaks.

Drawn widest of all in post 14 and adding blinkers for trainer Brendan Walsh after a runner-up finish in the GII Fair Grounds Oaks, Pretty Mischievous broke well beneath Tyler Gaffalione and secured a fantastic spot in fifth rounding the clubhouse turn before a sun-splashed crowd of 106,381 at Churchill Downs.

Traveling smartly in that same position as the speedy Sunland Park Oaks heroine Flying Connection (Nyquist) set sharp fractions of :23.07 and :46.96, the 10-1 shot began to unwind with a four-wide blitz on the far turn and narrowly stuck her white pair of Godolphin blinkers in front passing the quarter pole.

Pretty Mischievous spurted clear under several left handers from Gaffalione in the stretch and had just enough left in the tank to defeat the Todd Pletcher-trained last out GIII Gazelle S. runner-up by a neck. Pletcher and Repole, of course, will be very well-represented by Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby favorite Forte (Violence).

The Alys Look (Connect), a well-beaten third for Brad Cox in the Fair Grounds Oaks, was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third. Wet Paint (Blame), favored at 8-5 after sweeping Oaklawn Park's 3-year-old fillies prep series for Godolphin and Cox, closed from ninth to finish fourth.

It was a first Kentucky Oaks victory for Sheikh Mohammed's operation, Walsh and Gaffalione.

“We haven't won an Oaks before,” Godolphin's Michael Banahan said. “We've been second with a filly, and it seems like it was a long time ago with Little Belle. So, to come in here with two live chances, with two homebreds, I think it means everything to us.”

He continued, “Sheik Mohammed has developed a beautiful broodmare band here in the U.S. I think we are reaping the rewards with the horses we've had over the last couple of years. But to me, there's only the one Classic for fillies in the U.S. and that's today in the Oaks. And so to be able to win that just means everything.”

Walsh and Godolphin have previously teamed up on MGISWs Maxfield (Street Sense) and Santin (Distorted Humor).

“Obviously, I have had a very close association with them my whole life,” Walsh said. “I did nine winters in Dubai. I worked for them in Al Quoz as a rider. You know, when you're there and you're doing that, it was like working for an all-star team and getting on all-stars.”

Walsh continued, “And now to actually have the opportunity to train the all-stars is just, like, that's the stuff you dream of when you're a kid. If you want to be a footballer or a coach or whatever is to be around the very best. And it's just a great opportunity for me to be able to work with horses of this caliber.”

Gaffalione rode two Breeders' Cup winners at Keeneland last year and celebrated his first win in the Triple Crown series aboard War of Will (War Front) in the 2019 GI Preakness S. Gaffalione was also the previous regular rider of last year's champion 2-year-old filly Wonder Wheel (Into Mischief), who never factored in ninth in the Oaks.

“It's amazing. I feel so blessed,” Gaffalione said. “The trip worked out perfectly. I stayed out her way and she took me the whole way. What an incredible filly.”

Pretty Mischievous, a winner of her first two starts at Churchill Downs last fall, suffered her first career defeat finishing third in the GII Golden Rod S. beneath the Twin Spires Nov. 26. The bay enjoyed a fantastic winter at the Fair Grounds, annexing her first two career stakes victories in the Untapable S. Dec. 26 and the GII Rachel Alexandra S. Feb. 18. She looked like she was well on her way for a third straight win in the Fair Grounds Oaks, but, after hitting the front in the stretch, reported home 3 1/4 lengths behind the re-opposing Southlawn (Pioneerof the Nile). The latter finished a disappointing 10th with trouble in the Kentucky Oaks.

“This is the kind of thing you dream about, to win a Grade I, especially the Oaks at Churchill Downs, it's a long way from Cork in Ireland,” Walsh concluded. “It's indescribable, it's exactly what we're here for, and why these guys [Godolphin] breed these good horses, and why everybody works so hard.”

Pedigree Notes:

Will there be any heights left for Into Mischief to climb? Multiple leading sire titles: check. Breeders' Cup winners: check. Kentucky Derby winners: check. Seemingly one of the few holes on his CV was a Kentucky Oaks winner, but Pretty Mischievous took care of that. And perhaps, just perhaps, Into Mischief could become just the fifth sire to score a Derby-Oaks double in the same year, something that hasn't been done since Native Dancer sired the winners of both races 57 years ago. The Spendthrift sire has no fewer than three chances Saturday.

Pretty Mischievous is one of 130 black-type winners bred in the Northern Hemisphere for Into Mischief, who also has 63 graded winners, 17 at the top level, and seems to have no end to his prowess in sight. He is 18 this year, has his best books still in the pipeline, and could very well be on track to demolish just about every sire record in the books. Few stallions can keep Into Mischief's staggering pace of top horse after top horse, but if there's one, it's the Oaks winner's broodmare sire, Gainesway's Tapit. The two crossed have come up with five of the 85 stakes winners out of Tapit's daughters, including GSW and Oaks also-eligible Hoosier Philly and Saturday's GSW and Derby entrant Rocket Can.

The second foal for 2016 GI Spinaway S. winner Pretty City Dancer, who is a half to 2007 GI Gazelle S. winner Lear's Princess (Lear Fan), the Oaks winner was bred by Godolphin in Kentucky. Stroud Coleman Bloodstock acquired Pretty City Dancer on behalf of Godolphin for $3.5 million at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton November Sale while she was carrying her first foal, now the winning 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro filly named Ornamental. The mare was barren to Uncle Mo for 2021, but has a Medaglia d'Oro yearling filly and a Street Sense filly born Mar. 28. As so many of the good ones do, Pretty City Dancer directly descends from blue hen La Troienne–her seventh dam–through the Businesslike branch. The Grade I race named after La Troienne was run on the Oaks undercard Friday and was, naturally, won by another daughter of Into Mischief, Played Hard. –by Jill Williams

Saturday, Churchill Downs
LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS-GI, $1,250,000, Churchill Downs, 5-5, 3yo, f, 1 1/8m, 1:49.77, ft.
1–PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS, 121, f, 3, by Into Mischief
                1st Dam: Pretty City Dancer (GISW, $286,344), by Tapit
                2nd Dam: Pretty City, by Carson City
                3rd Dam: Pretty Special, by Riverman
1ST GRADE I WIN. 'TDN Rising Star'. O/B-Godolphin (KY);
T-Brendan P. Walsh; J-Tyler Gaffalione. $705,250. Lifetime
Record: 7-5-1-1, $1,206,560. Werk Nick Rating: A++.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the
free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Gambling Girl, 121, f, 3, by Dialed In
                1st Dam: Tulipmania, by Empire Maker
                2nd Dam: Eventail, by Lear Fan
                3rd Dam: Felicita, by Rubiano
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($200,000 Ylg '21 SARAUG). O-Repole
Stable; B-Gallagher's Stud (NY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $227,500.
3–The Alys Look, 121, f, 3, by Connect
                1st Dam: Foul Play, by Harlan's Holiday
                2nd Dam: Over the Edge, by Thunder Gulch
                3rd Dam: Cyber Cat, by Storm Cat
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($60,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Ike and Dawn
Thrash; B-G. Watts Humphrey (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $113,750.
Margins: NK, 2HF, NK. Odds: 10.37, 13.05, 30.28.
Also Ran: Wet Paint, Dorth Vader, Flying Connection, Defining Purpose, Mimi Kakushi, Wonder Wheel, Southlawn, Affirmative Lady, And Tell Me Nolies, Botanical, Promiseher America. Scratched: Hoosier Philly, Julia Shining, Taxed.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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