12/28/2007 1:00AM

Into Mischief gives connections gift

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Benoit Photo
Into Mischief and jockey Victor Espinoza (right) pull away from Colonel John (left) to win the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on Saturday.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Turns out trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Victor Espinoza won’t be getting a lump of coal for Christmas after all. Both had been mired in terrible slumps this fall at Hollywood Park, but they both headed to the holiday break beaming after combining on Saturday at Hollywood Park to win the $750,000 Cash Call Futurity with Into Mischief, who scored a 13-1 upset in the Grade 1 race for 2-year-olds on the track’s closing day.

Into Mischief ($29.60), who raced near the lead throughout, held off 2-1 favorite Colonel John to win by 1 1/4 lengths, with Massive Drama another half-length back in third. Monba closed furiously to finish fourth and was followed, in order, by Indian Sun, Sierra Sunset, Eaton’s Gift, Meal Penalty, Overextended, Shore Do, Referee, and Tres Borrachos in the field of 12.

Fourteen were entered in the Futurity, but Slew’s Tiznow was scratched on Friday and Old Man Buck was scratched on Saturday.

Into Mischief completed 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track in 1:40.82.

Into Mischief was a maiden winner at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meeting going 6 1/2 furlongs in his debut on Oct. 21, then was second as the favorite to Massive Drama in the seven-furlong Hollywood Prevue on Nov. 22. Despite that good form, he was an overlay in the Futurity after opening at 8-1

“The way I’m going, I’m surprised he wasn’t 30-1,” said Mandella, who was just 2 for 28 at the meet prior to the Futurity.

Espinoza had been doing even worse. He had just 6 wins from 126 mounts before the Futurity.

Into Mischief, by Harlan’s Holiday, was purchased by Mandella and Seth Semkin, the adviser to owner B. Wayne Hughes, on behalf of Hughes for $180,000 in March at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company 2-year-olds in training sale.

* Earlier in the day, Greg’s Gold got back to the winner’s circle by dropping down to face California-breds in the $107,800 On Trust Handicap, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Big Bad Leroybrown. Add Heat was third. Greg’s Gold ($3) was eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Monmouth and third in Hollywood’s Vernon O. Underwood Stakes in his two prior starts. The On Trust was his eighth victory in 23 starts.

Under Espinoza, Greg’s Gold was timed in 1:26.78 for 7 1/2 furlongs on Cushion Track, a track record. Greg’s Gold, 6, was bred and is owned by Bill Boswell and is trained by David Hofmans.