It was like deja vu in the $125,000 John Deere Maryland Million Turf, held at Laurel Park on Oct. 14. For the second straight year, Wicked Prankster went gate-to-wire to win the mile and an eighth grass affair.
The Sammy Davis-owned and trained 5-year-old gelding was winless in five starts since last year’s triumph. In his most recent start, he was pulled up on the first turn in the Find Stakes on Aug. 19 and walked off after the race. Despite his winless record on the year, bettors maintained faith in his early speed, and sent him postward as the 5-2 second choice, with Crabs N Beer going off favored at 2-1 in the field of 10.
With new rider Yomar Ortiz aboard, Wicked Prankster broke well from post position two and easily made the lead on the rail into the first turn. He was forced into setting faster fractions than last year, going the first quarter in :23.75, the opening half in :47.38, and three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.35. As they entered the stretch, Crabs N Beer, who rated off Wicked Prankster in the two-path, began to flatten out, and Wicked Prankster opened up a two-length lead. He encountered some fresh challenges in fast-charging Great Notion 3-year-olds Jack’s Legend and Starstruck Notion, but the wire came in time for Wicked Prankster, who held on by a half-length in 1:48.28 over the firm turf course. Starstruck Notion got second by a neck over second-time starter Jack’s Legend.
Wicked Prankster’s victory improved his career mark to 5-4-5 from 30 starts, with earnings of $301,271. It was the second Maryland Million victory for Davis, and fourth for Ortiz. Wicked Prankster originally raced for Bell Gable Stable LLC and Jamie Ness, but was claimed out of his debut for $25,000 at Laurel Park on Labor Day 2020 by Davis, who has campaigned him ever since.
Bred by Country Life Farm and Broken Trust Fund LLC, Wicked Prankster is a son of Country Life stallion Mosler, who currently ranks sixth among stallions with Maryland Million-eligible runners this year, with 32 winners and progeny earnings of $1.7 million. The 12-year-old son of War Front has three Maryland Million race wins to his credit – his daughter Miss Nondescript, from his first crop, captured the Lassie in 2020.
Wicked Prankster is out of Broken Trust Fund, a winning daughter of Broken Vow purchased in February 2017 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale specifically to be included in Mosler’s first book. Broken Trust Fund produced two foals for the Country Life Farm partnership – both are winners – before being sold in foal to Mosler at the Keeneland November sale in 2018.
Wicked Prankster becomes the seventh horse to win the Turf twice in the race’s 38-year history, and fifth to do it in back-to-back years, joining Winsox (1997, 98), Pocket Patch (2010, 11), Roadhog (2012, 13) and Phlash Phelps (2015, 16). Also winning twice, with a gap in between, were La Reine’s Terms (2002, 05) and Talk Show Man (2014, 18).