Into Mischief's stellar 2-year-old colt Practical Joke took Saturday's $500,000 Champagne S. (G1) after an incredible stretch duel with Syndergaard, making a case that the now two-time Grade 1 winner should be the early favorite for this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) next month at Santa Anita Park.
Winner of the Hopeful S. (G1) and his maiden special weight debut, undefeated Practical Joke is Into Mischief's leading runner of 2016 and one of four 2-year-old stakes winner for his sire, who also has more 2-year-old winners this year than any North American sire.
Practical Joke came out of the gate awkwardly in the one-mile Champagne and found himself at the back of the six-horse field, some eight lengths off the lead after a quarter-mile set be Syndergaard in :22.74 seconds.
Syndergaard continued to blaze along on the lead around the turn, but Practical Joke was cutting into the margin as he advanced along the rail. Coming into the stretch, Practical Joke swung off the fence and pulled up along side Syndergaard. That duo locked up side-by-side for the rest of the way, with Practical Joke getting his nose on the wire first by the narrowest of margins.
"He's undefeated, he's a really good horse,” said winning trainer Chad Brown. “He's handled the distance increases every time we've asked him to, and we're looking forward to getting to run him a little bit further. The runner-up is a very good horse as well, and deserves a lot of credit for fighting as well as he did."
Bred in Kentucky by Whispering Oaks, Practical Joke is out of stakes-placed Distorted Humor mare Halo Humor. Aquinnah Ventures went to $240,000 to land Practical Joke for his owners William H. Lawrence and Klaravich Stables at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Practical Joke is now a perfect three-for-three and has earned $559,800.