That swishing sound of another ball through the basket was the sire Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday) having another big weekend with his offspring. Chief among them were a pair of colts who finished first and third in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

The winner was the bay colt Audible, who won his first stakes and third race from four starts in the Holy Bull. The stakes victory was a major step forward for the half-million dollar colt owned by the triumvirate of WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd., and SF Racing LLC.

The partners picked up the husky bay at the Fasig-Tipton March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training at Gulfstream last year for $500,000. After being picked out of the Winter Quarter Farm consignment for $175,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s select New York-bred yearling auction at Saratoga, Audible had progressed so well that he worked a furlong in :10 2/5 with a stride length of about 24 feet. The colt had shown great extension and a high degree of thrust that earned him a Group 1 ranking and a BreezeFig of 62 from DataTrack International in its assessment of all the juveniles at the sale.

The partners brought the growthy colt along with a view to the long term. Audible has repaid them with rapid progress when it counts, and the company he defeated in the Holy Bull looks pretty solid. In second place was Free Drop Billy, who won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in 2017 and was second in the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

In third was the other Into Mischief colt, Tiz Mischief, who defeated Enticed (Medaglia d’Oro) by a length and a half. These two had reverse positions in last season’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. So, through several lines of form, the race result appears solid enough and deep enough to earn Audible a fair share of genuine respect.

 

That’s important because the goal for him, as well as most of the able colts, is the feature race on the first Saturday in May.

Having the ability is the first step, and this is clearly an athletic colt who is making significant progress at the right time to make a mark as a classic colt.

And the next question is whether Audible’s pedigree suggests that 10 furlongs will be a trump or a trap.

His sire Into Mischief won the G1 Hollywood Futurity at 1 1/16 miles as a 2-year-old, was sidelined much of his 3-year-old season, then came back to finish second in the G1 Malibu at seven furlongs before being retired after winning three of six starts. That is the kind of inconclusive racing career that most frequently precedes a trip to obscurity.

But Into Mischief was not a usual stallion prospect, and he has become a true force to reckon with in contemporary breeding. His best stock so far have been milers like himself, with Goldencents winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile twice, plus the Santa Anita Derby at nine furlongs. That’s the longest distance that any of his top progeny have won a G1, including Practical Joke, who won the G1 Champagne at a mile, plus the G1 Allen Jerkens and Hopeful at seven furlongs.

With no significant racing performance in any of the colt’s first three dams, the best clues to stamina potential are their sires. Broodmare sire Gilded Time (Timeless Moment) was champion 2-year-old of 1993, when he won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles, was laid off almost the entirety of his 3-year-old season until he came back to finish a close third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He retired to stud the next season after winning 4 of 6 starts.

Talk about breeding like to like, the racing careers of Into Mischief and Gilded Time are eerily similar.

The broodmare sire of Audible’s second dam is champion sprinter Gulch (Mr. Prospector). Winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs, the G1 Hopeful at 6 1/2 furlongs, the G1 Carter and Futurity at seven furlongs, and the G1 Metropolitan Handicap at a mile twice, Gulch won a G1 at nine furlongs only once, in the 1987 Wood Memorial.

In the weeks following the Wood, Gulch was sixth in the Kentucky Derby, fourth in the Preakness, won the 1987 Metropolitan, and was third in the Belmont Stakes. Gulch never won a race longer than 1 1/8 miles, and no horse in the first three generations of Audible’s pedigree won a G1 race at 10 furlongs.

Does that mean Audible won’t win the Kentucky Derby?

Not even I can look into the hearts of horses to see what greatness might lurk there, but if he’s almost as good as great-grandpa Gulch, Audible is going to be a hell of a horse.

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