04/03/2010 12:00AM

Duke of Mischief cruises in Oaklawn Handicap


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Duke of Mischief, who was a stakes winner last year at 3, looks he might be even better as an older horse. He won his second stakes in three starts this year on Saturday, when he cruised to a 2 1/2-length win over favorite and highweight Win Willy in the

The 1 1/8-mile feature continued the Racing Festival of the South, when at least one stakes a day is run over the final six cards of the meet. The series concludes with next Saturday's running of the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

Duke of Mischief ($14.20) won the $250,000 Iowa Derby last year by a commanding five lengths, and ran back to that performance in the Oaklawn. He broke well from his rail post and settled in third as Jonesboro and Dakota Phone bounded to the lead together through an opening quarter in 23.11 seconds and a half-mile in 47.04 Duke of Mischief was angled off the inside for the backstretch run by Eibar Coa, easily overtook the leaders with a three-wide move around the turn, then opened up on his rivals in the stretch to win in hand in 1:49.14.

"I saw his ears coming up turning for home, and I said, 'Oh, look at that,'" said David Fawkes, who trains Duke of Mischief.

Coa had also guided Duke of Mischief to a neck win in the Grade 3 Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park in January.

"He really showed his A-1 race today," Coa said. "I'm very happy for him, for the whole team."

Duke of Mischief races for Fawkes, Marilyn McMaster and Alex and Jo Ann Lieblong.

Fawkes said Duke of Mischief's next start is to be determined, with the horse now scheduled to return home to his Calder Race Course base. He earned $300,000 for his win in the Oaklawn, which was his fifth from 12 starts. He is a 4-year-old son of Graeme Hall.

Jonesboro finished third in the Oaklawn Handicap, six lengths behind Win Willy.

* Attendance ontrack was 21,913. Handle on the 11-race card from all sources was $4,099,643.