Fifth Career Win in Six-Furlong Sprint for Hall of Famer Asmusssen
BALTIMORE – Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s homebred Mighty Mischief, making his stakes debut, kept multiple stakes-winning stablemate and even-money favorite Jaxon Traveler at bay through the stretch to post a front-running 1 ¼-length triumph in Saturday’s $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico Race Course.
The 46th running of the six-furlong Chick Lang for 3-year-olds was the first of six graded-stakes among 10 stakes worth $2.25 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race program headlined by the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, Mighty Mischief ($5.60) completed the distance in 1:09.74 over a fast main track. Santana and Asmussen also teamed up to win the 2015 Chick Lang with Holy Boss.
Mighty Mischief gave Asmussen his fifth victory in the Chick Lang, including Lantana Mob (2008), Mitole (2018) –named champion male sprinter of 2019 – and Yaupon, who tied a stakes record with his victory in 1:09.10 last year.
Maryland-bred Jaxon Traveler, previously unbeaten in the first three starts in his home state, including a 10-length debut triumph last September at Pimlico, and his first stakes score in the Maryland Juvenile Futurity in December, broke running from Post 4 but was quickly passed for the lead by Mighty Mischief.
A bay son of Into Mischief, less than a length shy of being undefeated through four starts, Mighty Mischief ran through splits of 26.34 and 45.97 seconds with Hutcheson winner Willy Boi in pursuit as Jaxon Traveler dropped back to fourth. Jaxon Traveler was swung three wide by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. for a clear run at the leader but was unable to gain ground as Mighty Mischief powered to the wire.
Jaxon Traveler was a clear second, 2 ½ lengths ahead of Hemp, who closed late for third. It was 3 ¼ lengths back to Willy Boi in fourth.
Unraced at 2, Mighty Mischief came up three-quarters of a length short of Aloha West in his Feb. 7 unveiling at Oaklawn Park. The Chick Lang was his third consecutive gate-to-wire victory, after breaking his maiden March 19 and beating winners at first asking April 10 by 7 ¾ combined lengths, also at Oaklawn. All four of his races have come at six furlongs.
Run as the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes from its inception in 1975 to 2009, the Chick Lang was renamed in honor of the racing industry legend widely known as ‘Mr. Preakness,’ who passed away in 2010 at age 83.
$200,000 Chick Lang (G3) Quotes
Winning Trainer Steve Asmussen (Mighty Mischief) and (Jaxson Traveler, 2nd): “The only thing that could have been better is a dead heat. I think they’re both very quality horses. The race might have been a little quick back for Jaxon Traveler. He didn’t have as much speed as he normally does, and the race got away from him a little bit from the half-mile to the three-eighths.”
(Pre-race instructions?) “I think that’s covered when you’ve got Ricardo [Santana Jr.] and Irad [Ortiz Jr.]. At this level, this is as good as it gets. I think where they drew made the difference in the outcome of the race.”
“The significance of this is that it’s Corinne Heiligbrodt’s mare and they’re the breeder of this one as well. Not only for them to breed another Chick Lang winner, and I’m sure this is their third Chick Lang winner.”
“Jaxon Traveler has been a very versatile horse. He’s traveled, and being a Maryland-bred, [there are] Mid-Atlantic opportunities for him. Mighty Mischief, this being his first stakes try, we’ll see how he comes out of it and what we need to do with him next.”
Winning Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. (Mighty Mischief): “This is a nice horse. We have a lot of confidence in him. We’ve always loved this horse from Day 1. He’s improved a lot. They let me walk the first quarter. I was really happy. He was really comfortable. The first quarter, when they let me walk in 23 [seconds], I knew I was going slow. I knew he was going to accelerate for home, and I just waited for company to come back to me. And when they came close to me, I had a lot left.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Jaxon Traveler; 2nd): “No excuse. He was running at the end, but the other horse [Mighty Mischief] was hard to catch. The other horse went 23 [seconds], went a little easy the first quarter.”
Trainer Anthony Farrior (Hemp; 3rd): “He ran good. There were a couple of good ones in here. [Jockey Jevian]Toledo rode a great race, sitting behind the speed and made one run. Glad to hit the board. He finished well, and we’re happy with him. He’s a Maryland-bred, so we’ll have a little fun with him in the state. Everyone wants to run on these days. It’s everyone’s dream to run on Preakness Day. I’m just glad the owners gave me a horse that can run. The plan worked good. I knew Steve [Asmussen] would be tough. When he comes, he brings good horses. I am very pleased. I thought we could run third, I really did. The three horses that were favored were all going to go out there and, hopefully, one would falter and we could come running. At the top of the lane, I thought we were going to get a little more of it, but they kept running, too.”
Jockey Jevian Toledo (Hemp): “I was hoping they would stop and I could catch them. They kept running. But my horse, he ran, not 100 percent, he tried 200 percent. So he ran his race, he ran good. The other horses are really nice horses and kept going. I think with the competition here, he should be really nice next time.”