Into Mischief

At first glance, his name might suggest playfulness. But this son of Harlan's Holiday was all business on the racetrack.

Trained by expert horseman Richard Mandella and piloted by Victor Espinoza in every race he entered, Into Mischief's career was a tale of two halves. The first three of his six career starts came in 2007, starting with a nice debut win in a six and one-half furlong sprint on the main track. The bay horse with a strikingly beautiful coat followed that up with a nice second to Massive Drama in the seven furlong Grade III Hollywood Prevue before roaring back to turn the tables on that very opponent with a hard fought victory in the Grade I CashCall Futurity going a mile and a sixteenth.

With Harlan's Holiday as his sire, Into Mischief looked to have the pedigree to go long. He proved that he could in the CashCall Futurity, but a return to sprinting awaited him in his 2008 debut. Squarely on the Kentucky Derby trail, he returned to action in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes. Never afraid to mix it up early, he stalked Massive Drama in the seven furlong event, battling with his rival late before getting beat to the wire by Georgie Boy (who was the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association's top Cal-bred Two-Year-Old Male for the 2007 season).

It was a good result to start the season, but an abscess in Into Mischief's left hind foot put him on the sidelines until the autumn. Returning to Oak Tree, he picked up where he left off in the spring, putting on a stirring finishing run while going seven-eighths of a mile in the Damascus Stakes on the Breeders' Cup Saturday undercard. The victory gave him a measure of revenge, for he defeated Georgie Boy in the return engagement.

Start number six came at Santa Anita on opening day of the 2008-09 winter/spring meeting. Once more, the distance was seven panels, and the race was the Grade I Malibu Stakes. Favored at a little over 2-1, Into Mischief took second behind Bob Black Jack after a strong run in the stretch after a wide run into the top of the stretch. Despite the defeat, Into Mischief again defeated Georgie Boy, who completed the trifecta.

The Malibu turned out to be the final race of Into Mischief's career. In six starts, he was first on three occasions, and second in the others. Again, a tale of two halves as he retired with just under $600,000 in earnings.

In the years since he last raced, Into Mischief has gone on to be a notable stallion. In 2019, he became the number one general sire with dozens of black-type winner to his name, and was the leading sire of juveniles during the 2016, 2018 and 2019 seasons. Among his most prolific progeny are two-time Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile champion Goldencents; multiple graded stakes winner Vicar's in Trouble; Vyjack, a graded stakes winner on turf and dirt; Practical Joke, who won three Grade I events in New York; Audible, the 2018 Florida Derby winner; and Covfefe, who captured the Eclipse Awards for Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and Female Sprinter.

Also among his talented runners are 2020 Grade I Haskell Stakes winner Authentic along with 2020 Acorn and Test Stakes champion Gamine.

His racing career was brief, but Into Mischief gave it his all every time he left the starting gate. He found success on the track, and has found even more success in the breeding shed. For those reasons, the horse with the playful name can indeed be called a Thoroughbred with truly serious talents.


Gantz, Tracy. "Mandella Horses Gallop at Santa Anita," Blood-Horse, March 24, 2008.

Oppenheim, Bill. "Into Mischief Tops the Charts," Blood-Horse, December 29, 2019.

Entry added September 2, 2020 by AF.