Practical Joke, who looked super in his Aug. 6 maiden win, validated that five-length score with a gutty neck victory in the $350,000 Hopeful S. (G1) Monday at Saratoga.
The victory propelled the 2-year-old colt to the top of the list of Into Mischief's seven stakes horses in 2016.
The Hopeful complexion changed soon after the break when post-time favorite Classic Empire wheeled and dropped his rider soon after the break. The remaining six runners continued on with just a few lengths from first to last, with Practical Joke in fifth after a quarter mile in :23.80. Jose Ortiz stayed on the rail until coming out of the turn, when he went three wide to take on Royal Copy and Pretty Boy Flash.
The trio raced together through the final furlong, with Practical Joke getting his head in front in the final strides to win by a neck over Royal Copy in 1:23.59 for the seven furlongs.
“He's got tactical speed, he can run close to the pace, and he fired when I asked him to run,” said Ortiz. “The pace was pretty slow. I thought about taking the lead as soon as we broke because I knew we were going so slow. But something told me, don't do it, and the trip worked out perfect.
"He was running the whole way. He gave me a great turn of foot when I got him in the clear but the other two horses were in front and they kept fighting a little bit. As soon as he put a head in front, he kept going.”
Practical Joke, bred by Whispering Oaks, was a $240,000 Keeneland September sale graduate in 2015. He's now earned $259,800 for co-owners Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence.