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Played Hard the latest Grade 1 winner for Into Mischief

May 6, 2023

Played Hard (at right) holds off Secret Oath in the G1 La Troienne S. at Churchill Downs - Coady photography

Played Hard (at right) holds off Secret Oath in the G1 La Troienne S. at Churchill Downs – Coady photography

Played Hard, a 5-year-old daughter of Into Mischief, held off Secret Oath in a thrilling stretch duel to win the $750,000 La Troienne S. (G1) Friday at Churchill Downs.

Despite not having started since winning the Falls City S. (G3) last November over the same oval, Played Hard proved she was ready with an incredibly gritty performance against a top-class field of fillies and mares.

Played Hard was keen from the gate and secured a spot in second behind Society as the field rounded the first turn. The leader carved out fractions of :47.28 and 1:11.55 before Played Hard made her way to the lead midway on the final bend.

Secret Oath launched a huge move in upper stretch to battle the rest of the way with Played Hard, who never let last year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner get by her, to win by a neck in 1:42.48 for the 1 1/16-miles on a fast track.

“She’s very brave. All the credit goes to Mr. Phil Bauer and his team,” said winning rider John Velazquez about Played Hard’s trainer. “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.”

Played Hard is owned by Rigney Racing LLC, and with the big win, became racing’s newest millionaire. The 5-year-old sports a record of 6-5-2 from 15 starts, and earnings of $1,420,140. She was bred in Kentucky by Susan Casner and sold to her owner for $280,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling sale.

Incredibly, Played Hard’s victory was just a prelude for bigger things to come on the Churchill Oaks day card for Into Mischief. Two races later, his 3-year-old filly Pretty Mischievous would overcome post position 14 to win the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1). The weekend could get even bigger for the 4-time champion sire should one of his three Kentucky Derby (G1) entrants take the Run for the Roses on Saturday.