01/24/2015 6:14PM

Mischief Clem redeems himself in Cal Cup Derby

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Benoit & Associates
Mischief Clem, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, regains his good form in the California Cup Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Two starts into his career last autumn, Mischief Clem was unbeaten and seemingly ready to ascend to the top of the 2-year-old California-bred male division.

Then, he lost three consecutive starts, all in stakes.

“Every race seemed to have a quirk,” jockey Kent Desormeaux said. “Things didn’t go well. He missed the start, he got stuck inside. The little things that make you want to pull your hair out.”

Saturday, in the richest race of his career, the $250,000 California Cup Derby, there were no frustrations, only a celebration. Mischief Clem ($25.60) had an ideal trip under Desormeaux to win the stakes for 3-year-old statebreds by a hard-fought head over Pulmarack. Kluszewski finished a well-beaten third by 5 3/4 lengths, 6 1/2 lengths in front of 1-2 favorite Acceptance, who was beaten for the first time.

Mischief Clem ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.82. He was always in the first three in the field of seven.

“He put it all together,” Desormeaux said. “He was a consummate pro.”

Acceptance, a stakes winner here in November and at Los Alamitos in December against California-breds, led on the backstretch when he was challenged by Tough Sunday. On the turn, Tough Sunday faded from contention when Acceptance was challenged by Mischief Clem and Pulmarack.

Pulmarack led in the stretch, but could not sustain the advantage. Acceptance faded to finish 12 lengths behind Mischief Clem. Neveradoubt was fifth, followed by Chanito and Tough Sunday. Avanti Bello was scratched on Saturday morning.

Acceptance drew $93,299 of the $124,088 bet to show. As a result of his placing, the show payoffs on the first three were higher than normal. Mischief Clem paid $13.40, Pulmarack paid $10.80, and Kluszewski paid $14.80.

Bob Hess Jr., trains Mischief Clem, a colt by Papa Clem owned by Griffin Thoroughbred Stables. Mischief Clem has won 3 of 6 starts and $266,380. Mischief Clem was purchased for $22,000 at the 2013 Barretts January yearling sale as an early-season yearling.