Practical Joke is for real

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

August 1st, 2017

I will be the first to admit I was not a firm believer in the ability of multiple Grade 1 hero PRACTICAL JOKE earlier this year. But following a huge third in the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park on Sunday, my opinion has changed.

Trained by Chad Brown, the sophomore son of Into Mischief was a precocious juvenile who bagged his first three starts, including the Hopeful (G1) and Champagne (G1), prior to capping his season with a respectable third after a poor start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

The bay colt has continued to perform at a high level at age 3. And while he has just one win from a handful of starts, Practical Joke brings it every time, something many of his peers can’t brag about.  

Second when opening 2017 versus a fine field in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park, the Kentucky-bred followed with a closing second in the Blue Grass (G2). Saddled with post 19 in the Kentucky Derby, Practical Joke finished a better-than-it-appears fifth after breaking from a dreadful starting slot.

He returned from a freshening to post a facile win in the Dwyer (G3) and just missed Sunday in the Haskell, offering a serious challenge in deep stretch before coming up a half-length short. I exited the race excited for what Practical Joke will do next.

Brown is reportedly considering a cutback in trip for the 7-furlong Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) on August 26, citing distance concerns in the 1 ¼-mile Travers (G1) the same day, but the hard-trying Practical Joke is eligible to outrun his pedigree in my opinion and a Travers (G1) heist would not be a surprise.

I would love to see connections aim for the Mid-Summer Classic.

While it may be considered far-fetched at this stage to consider Practical Joke in the hunt for championship divisional honors, with just a single Grade 3 win this year, I am not closing the door just yet. If the colt can pick up a couple of major wins going forward, he would jump right into a prime position where voters are eligible to respect the classy type’s overall body of work.

In the most uneven season for sophomores in my memory, Practical Joke could inch forward and be laughing last at the conclusion of 2017.