Keying Golden Mischief in the Winning Colors Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 23rd, 2018

After handicapping Saturday’s $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs, I have to think that it’s going to take a monstrous effort for anyone to defeat #2 Golden Mischief in this six-furlong sprint.

On paper, the four-year-old daughter of Into Mischief appears to be a cut above her five rivals. Owned by Juddmonte Farms and trained by Brad Cox, Golden Mischief is a four-time stakes winner with a 5-for-7 record going six furlongs, including a 5 ¾-length allowance win in September 2016 over the same track and distance as the Winning Colors.

But it was Golden Mischief’s most recent race that has stamped her as the clear favorite for the Winning Colors. Sent off as the favorite in a six-furlong allowance race at Oaklawn Park, Golden Mischief tracked the pace in second place early on before seizing command and pulling away through a spectacular final quarter-mile in about :22 4/5 to win by 8 ¼ lengths, earning a massive 109 BRIS Late Pace rating. Even better, Golden Mischief’s final time was a rapid 1:08.77, which translated to a 108 BRIS speed figure and a 101 Beyer speed figure.

Anything close to a repeat of that performance should land Golden Mischief in the winner’s circle on Saturday, leaving us with the somewhat trickier task of identifying the fillies most likely to round out the order of finish. The most logical candidates might be #5 Miss Kentucky and #4 Treble, who finished just a neck apart when running first and second in a six-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs on April 28th. Miss Kentucky was victorious on the day after tracking fast fractions of :21.43 and :45.52, but the late-running Treble fell just short at the end after winning her two previous starts—both six-furlong allowance races at Oaklawn Park—in decisive fashion.

It’s also worth noting that Miss Kentucky’s trainer, Rusty Arnold, has been enjoying a simply fantastic start to the current Churchill Downs meet, winning with six of his first 14 starters while hitting the board with four others. As an added bonus, jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr. will be in the saddle, and Hernandez is winning at a 24% rate at the current Churchill meet.

Since Golden Mischief figures to start as a heavy favorite in the Winning Colors, we won't get overly aggressive with playing a lot of horses in the exotics. Instead, we'll keep things simple and key Golden Mischief on top of a large exacta and trifecta while using Miss Kentucky and Treble underneath:

$10 exacta: 2 with 4,5 ($20) $5 trifecta: 2 with 4,5 with 4,5 ($10)

Good luck!