Early in 2013, following a promising close to his freshman sire year, Into Mischief confirmed that he was a young sire to watch with a pair of 3-year-olds—Goldencents and Vyjack—making their presence felt on the Triple Crown trail.
With that in mind, Jan. 18 felt like, to quote Yogi Berra, "Déjà vu all over again" as Into Mischief's second-crop son, Vicar's in Trouble, stormed to a 6 3/4-length victory in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), the first step on the Louisiana route to the 2014 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). This was only the third start in the career of Vicar's in Trouble, who finished third to OBS Sprint Stakes winner Ruslana at Keeneland on his debut in October, before a 13-length romp in a Louisiana-bred maiden special weight at the same distance at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Dec. 14.
Although foaled in Louisiana, Vicar's in Trouble was bred by Kentucky-based Spendthrift Farm, who stands Into Mischief. The farm had sent the Lecomte winner's dam, Vibrant, to visit its regional sire, My Pal Charlie, in 2010. The colt's first trip through the ring also came in the Bayou State, at the Equine Sales of Louisiana 2012 Yearling auction where he realized just $8,000 to the bid of Clyde Taylor. That proved to be a shrewd investment, as Vicar's in Trouble enjoyed a significant appreciation in value over the next nine months, the Fasig-Tipton May 2013 2-year-old in training sale seeing him fetch a much healthier $80,000 to the bid of recent Eclipse Award breeders and owners of the year, Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey.
During the period between the two sales, Into Mischief's reputation had also undergone considerable upward revision. A son of Harlan's Holiday, Into Mischief had a relatively brief career, starting just six times. He did, however, undoubtedly prove that he was a fast and precocious racehorse. At 2 he broke his maiden over 6 1/2 furlongs first out, finished second in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III), and then captured the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) in a quick time. Into Mischief ran second to juvenile grade I winner Georgie Boy in the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) first time out at 3, but was then sidelined until autumn. On his return he won the seven-furlong Damascus Stakes, while defeating Georgie Boy and subsequent grade I winners Dancing in Silks and Gayego, and traveling the seven furlongs in 1:20.38. He then ended his career with a second in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I).
Retired as one of the first of the horses in the Spendthrift Farm "Share the Upside" program, Into Mischief began his career at a fee of $12,500 and—as is typical for horses in this price-range—then dropped in successive years to $10,000, $8,500, and then $7,500. At the time of Vicar's in Trouble's first trip through the sale ring, Into Mischief had made a solid enough start, but the real action was to come. Late in the year Louisiana-bred stakes winner Sittin At the Bar joined Goldencents, who followed a second in the Foxwood Champagne Stakes (gr. I) with a victory in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes, and Vyjack who scored an impressive victory in the Traskwood Stakes.
Goldencents had already won the Sham Stakes (gr. III) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) early in the year and, after unsuccessful tilts at classic glory in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), re-emerged as a top-class performer over shorter distances, with the highlight of his season being a victory in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I). Vyjack enjoyed a successful spring, with wins in the Jerome Stakes (gr. II), Gotham Stakes (gr. III) and a third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I).
With the previously mentioned trio of stakes winners being joined by Mischievous Mama, Holiday Mischief and Miss Mischief, Into Mischief now has six winners from a first crop of 46 foals. His second crop, numbering 29 has aleady produced not only Vicar's in Trouble, but also Can The Man, winner of the Speakeasy Stakes and third in the Del Mar Futurity (gr. I). However, breeders really got the message last year with the result that Into Mischief is reported as covering 210 mares.
Incidentally, we should note that while Into Mischief's stock has been rising through his own efforts as a sire, his pedigree has simultaneously gained added luster. When he retired to stud, his sire Harlan's Holiday—who unfortunately died this spring at the early age of 14—had made an encouraging start, but since then, the son of the Storm Cat stallion Harlan had gone from strength-to-strength, his record being bolstered by such of the brilliant grade I-winning sprinter Majesticperfection and Shanghai Bobby , the champion 2-year-old of 2012. Meanwhile, Into Mischief's dam, Leslie's Lady, is now also dam of Beholder (by Henny Hughes, another Storm Cat line stallion), who has garnered Eclipse Awards as both champion 2-year-old and champion 3-year-old filly.
A winner of five races, $145,623, Vicar's in Trouble's dam Vibrant has produced two other winners from a total of four foals that have started. She is by the Wild Again horse Vicar, another who made his mark on the Triple Crown trail with wins in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) and Florida Derby (gr. I). Third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on his next outing, Vicar finished 18th in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and 10th in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and failed to add to the win column in eight subsequent starts.
Vibrant is half sister to the smart French Deputy sprinter True Direction, winner of the Fall Highweight Handicap (gr. III) and Hirsch Jacobs Stakes. Vibrant's dam, Ms Paragon, is by the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) victor Tank's Prospect and is a half sister to an earlier winner of the Lecomte, Encolure, a Riva Ridge son who also ran second in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) and Super Derby (gr. I). Vicar's in Trouble's third dam, Jabot, was both talented—a winner of the Suwannee River Handicap (gr. III)—and well-bred, a daughter of Bold Ruler. She is half sister to two-time grade I winner and successful sire, Big Spruce, and to Manta, whose 12 stakes wins include several that now qualify for grade I status.
Vicar's in Trouble (TrueNicks A++) is one of two stakes winners from only three starters by Into Mischief or his sire out of mares by Vicar. Harlan's Holiday also sired a stakes winner out of a mare by Vicar's sire, Wild Again, to make the score three stakes winners from 11 starters by Harlan's Holiday and his sons out of Wild Again line mares. Vicar's in Trouble does own a somewhat unusual pedigree pattern, as Into Mischief is a Northern Dancer/Icecapade cross, and Vicar an Icecapade/Northern Dancer cross (the Northern Dancer via Storm Cat, and via Vicar's dam, Escrow Agent, who are both out of mares by Secretariat). The combination of Northern Dancer and Icecapade is also worth mentioning as this duo are the two most significant of the six stakes winners from 32 starters sired by Nearctic out of Native Dancer mares.
Looking to the future, Into Mischief's two best colts to date, the aforementioned Goldencents and Vyjack, have done most of their best work at up to a mile. Vicar's in Trouble's dam scored here victories at six and seven furlongs, and the best of her siblings was also a sprinter. With that in mind, while we expect Vicar's in Trouble to be a major player in the next legs of the Louisiana route to the classics, we'll be a little surprised should the 10 furlongs of the Kentucky Derby prove to be his optimum trip.