04/16/2011 11:32PM

Charles Town Classic: Duke of Mischief gives huge effort to snap losing streak

Mike Montgomery Photo
Duke of Mischief, ridden by Joe Bravo, captures the $1 million Charles Town Classic

A wide trip, sloppy track, and nine accomplished opponents were no obstacles for Duke of Mischief, who made a long, sustained bid under Joe Bravo to win Saturday night's Grade 3, $1 million Charles Town Classic by 2 1/4 lengths.

Game on Dude, the Santa Anita Handicap winner who pressed the pace, held on for second by a head over Tizway. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Tackleberry in fourth. They were followed in the order of finish by Gone Astray, Awesome Gem, Inherit the Gold, No Advantage, Rule and Acclamation.

The win was the seventh from 21 starts for Duke of Mischief, a 5-year-old son of Graeme Hall owned by Joann and Alex Lieblong, Marilyn McMaster ,and David Fawkes, who is also the trainer.

Duke of Mischief added the Charles Town Classic to a resume that includes last year's Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap, Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale, and Grade 3 Philip Iselin Handicap as well as the 2009 Iowa Derby. Since the Iselin last August at Monmouth Park, Duke of Mischief had lost five consecutive starts.

I thought that was huge,'' Fawkes said afterward. “I think he ran one of the best races he's run in a long time. It might be the fastest number he's ever run.''

Early on, Duke of Mischief was toward the back of the pack and wide under Bravo while Tackleberry set fractions of 24.35 seconds for the opening quarter and 48.62 for the half-mile while pressed by Game on Dude.

Entering the second of three turns, Duke of Mischief was about four wide. But around that turn and down the backside the second time, Duke of Mischief launched a four-wide bid and moved alongside the leading duo with three furlongs to run. Leaving the quarter pole, Duke of Mischief put a head in front of Game on Dude and opened up from there with four cracks of Bravo's left-handed whip and two from his right

Joe said he had so much horse it didn't matter where he was laying,'' Fawkes said. “I only gave him one instruction, ‘Don't be worse than third going into the last turn and get to the outside.' Joe rode him perfectly.

Duke of Mischief covered the 1 1/8 miles in the slop in 1:51.13 and returned $11.40 to win.

Fawkes said Duke of Mischief will be one of the 30 horses he will be bringing to Belmont Park for the summer.