by Brian Bohl
Cash is King Stable and LC Racing's Maximus Mischief handled the step up to stakes company and stretch out in distance in impressive fashion, battling for the lead while still holding plenty in reserve to outkick post-time favorite Network Effect in the stretch to win the 105th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen for juveniles as part of the Cigar Mile Day card Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Remsen, the first of five races at the Big A that are part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby Series," saw Maximus Mischief earn 10 qualifying points for the Run for the Roses on May 4 at Churchill Downs and improved to 3-for-3 to start his career for trainer Robert Reid, Jr.
Breaking sharp under jockey Frankie Pennington, Maximus Mischief, the 7-5 second choice, dueled Gladiator King for the early speed, with the opening quarter-mile going in 25.12 seconds on the main track labeled fast.
Maximus Mischief gained the edge from the outside over Gladiator King and fended off Tax from his outside in posting a half-mile mark of 50.67. With Tax giving heavy pursuit coming out of the final turn, Maximus Mischief responded to Pennington's left-handed encouragement, opening up his lead before hitting the wire in a final time of 1:51.34 for 1 1/8 miles to complete a 2 1/4-length win.
The Into Mischief colt returned $4.80 on a $2 win wager.
"Running short he was always so sharp and keen, but Butch Reid did an awesome job getting him ready for this race," Pennington said. "He broke well. Going into the first turn he relaxed right back to me and put his ears up and I knew he was going to be good today.
"He's the kind of horse that will do it easy by himself, but as soon as he feels the pressure, he becomes an even better horse. When he feels that fight coming, that's what he likes."
Maximus Mischief, purchased for $340,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale of 2-year-olds in training, has already amassed $192,100 in earnings since winning his debut on September 29 at Parx by 8 3/4-lengths at 5 ½ furlongs. Stretching out to seven furlongs, he defeated allowance company by six lengths over the same track on October 20 before stepping up in class in NYRA's last graded stakes for juveniles on the calendar.
"He came through in fine colors as far as I'm concerned," said Reid, who won his first graded stakes since Poseidon's Warrior in the 2012 Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap. "I was really concerned that it was a deep racetrack at Aqueduct. Parx is pretty deep, and maybe that's helped him a little bit. They've been running slow times down here. I watched the beginning of the card and I was hoping it was a little faster than that, but to go from seven-eighths to a mile and an eighth, especially the way he did it, is a pretty good accomplishment.
"He runs the turns really well and he swaps leads really good so that's generally where he gets the drop on them. The first thing Frank said when he came off the horse was that when he went into the first turn, [Maximus Mischief] pricked his ears and settled down - and he hadn't had too many horses around him early in his career - that he wasn't worried about the horses inside or outside of him, so that's a really good sign."
Klaravich Stables' Network Effect, the field's lone graded stakes veteran coming off a second-place effort in the Grade 3 Nashua on November 4 at the Big A for trainer Chad Brown, was second by a half-length, earning four qualifying points.
"He ran good. Unfortunately, I think the pace was too slow for him today. That's just the way the race developed," said Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who has been aboard for all three of Network Effect's career starts.
"I'm not disappointed with my horse," he added. "I'm really satisfied with the way he did it, and I think he's a horse that has so much talent. He's getting confident with himself and that's the third time he's run, and I like the way he finished today. I think he's looking for a little more distance."
Tax, also making his first stakes appearance in just his third start, garnered two qualifying points for his third-place effort for trainer Danny Gargan. Fourth-place finisher Bourbon War, a Mark Hennig trainee, netted one point.
Jungle Warrior, Gladiator King and Chinomado completed the order of finish.