Into Mischief Filly Not Playing in La Troienne

Played Hard (right) lasts in the La Troienne | Horsephotos


Making her first start since winning last fall's GIII Falls City S. at 45 cents on the dollar, Rigney Racing's Played Hard (Into Mischief) rewarded those that remained loyal to her from a pari-mutuel perspective with a near 9-1 upset in Friday's GI La Troienne S. at Churchill Downs. For the second time in as many races, Briland Farm's Secret Oath (Arrogate)–who won the GI Longines Kentucky Oaks on this program 12 months ago–took a dirty beat in Grade I company, having been pipped on the post in the Apple Blossom H. last time, while Search Results (Flatter), beaten a neck by Malathaat (Curlin) in the 2021 Oaks, was a brave third.

“I went to bed many nights dreaming of this moment,” said trainer and Louisville native Phil Bauer, who was unsaddling his first top-level winner. “Horse racing can be like climbing Mount Everest. Today, I feel like we've made it to the top. As a Louisville guy, this means everything to me. It's so hard to put into words what Tammi and Richard Rigney mean to me. They've supported me through the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows.”

Ridden for some speed by John Velazquez, Played Hard argued the early issue inside of Search Results and Society (Gun Runner), but when it was clear that Florent Geroux was intent on taking the latter to the top, Velazquez took a tug on Played Hard and pulled her to the outside to hound the front-runner from second. Society led through a half in a solid :47.28 and took the field into the second turn, but Played Hard was breathing down her neck and came calling for the lead with just under 2 1/2 furlongs to go. A few lengths behind, Secret Oath was making ominous progress after covering ground, but had to be asked by Tyler Gaffalione.

In front as they hit the top of the lane, Played Hard was urged along to maintain her advantage, but Secret Oath, six or seven wide off the final corner, looked to have the momentum down the center of the track while Search Results refused to lay down at the rail. Played Hard drifted out under a left-handed crop and she and Secret Oath brushed, but she boxed on gamely and was home narrowly best. A claim of foul against the winner was ultimately disallowed and the result stood as is.

“She's very brave. All the credit goes to Mr. Phil Bauer and his team,” said Velazquez, winning the La Troienne for the third time. “She's been working really good, and I didn't know if she had enough to beat Secret Oath today. But she put in a couple of good works here. I knew she was going to run well. The whole team did such a great job, to get her ready after a long layoff, and to run with this horse. I've got to give it to Phil, great job.”

Tyler Gaffalione said the incident in the stretch likely cost Secret Oath the race.

“Honestly, it felt a lot worse than it looked,” he said. “My filly must have been getting tired at that point, and we came together. I had pretty good position going into the first turn, then we ran into traffic, and a lot of shuffling, so I didn't want to get myself in a bad spot, so I got her out of there. She's got such a tremendous kick, that I wanted to rely on that.”

Off the board just once in eight previous runs beneath the Twin Spires, Played Hard romped home by 5 3/4 lengths in the GIII Locust Grove S. during Churchill's September meet last fall, then was third, but soundly defeated, in the GI Juddmonte Spinster S. at Keeneland ahead of her Falls City performance.

Pedigree Notes:

The 16th Grade I winner for her spectacular sire, Played Hard–a $280,000 Keeneland September acquisition–is out of daughter of SW Well Dressed, the dam of G1 Dubai World Cup hero Well Armed (Tiznow); GSW Witty (Distorted Humor), the dam of Grade III winner Bombard (War Front) and MGSP Amuse (Medaglia d'Oro); GISP Helsinki (Distorted Humor); and of the dam of GISW and current Darley Japan stallion American Patriot (War Front). Well Lived is the dam of the 3-year-old colt Highest Regards (Candy Ride {Arg}) and delivered a colt by Constitution Apr. 3. Played Hard is bred on a similar cross to champion Wonder Wheel as well as Grade III winner Comical. Rocket Can, who starts in Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby, has asecond dam by Tiznow.

Friday, Churchill Downs
LA TROIENNE S. PRESENTED BY TWINSPIRES-GI, $750,000, Churchill Downs, 5-5, 4yo/up, f/m, 1 1/16m, 1:42.48, ft.
1–PLAYED HARD, 123, m, 5, by Into Mischief
           1st Dam: Well Lived, by Tiznow
           2nd Dam: Well Dressed, by Notebook
           3rd Dam: Trithenia, by Gold Meridian
1ST GRADE I WIN. ($280,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Rigney Racing, LLC; B-Susan Casner (KY); T-Philip A. Bauer; J-John R. Velazquez. $441,750. Lifetime Record: 15-6-5-2, $1,420,140. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree or free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Secret Oath, 123, f, 4, by Arrogate
           1st Dam: Absinthe Minded (MSW & MGISP, $607,747), by Quiet American
           2nd Dam: Rockford Peach, by Great Above
           3rd Dam: Strawberry Skyline, by Hatchet Man
O-Briland Farm; B-Briland Farm, Robert & Stacy Mitchell (KY); T-D. Wayne Lukas. $142,500.
3–Search Results, 123, m, 5, by Flatter
           1st Dam: Co Cola (GSP), by Candy Ride (Arg)
           2nd Dam: Yong Musician, by Yonaguska
           3rd Dam: Alljazz, by Stop the Music
($310,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Klaravich Stables, Inc.; B-Machmer Hall (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. $71,250.
Margins: NK, HF, 1HF. Odds: 8.93, 1.68, 4.02.
Also Ran: A Mo Reay, Desert Dawn, Pauline's Pearl, Soul of an Angel, Sixtythreecaliber, Society, Classy Edition.
Click for the chart or the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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