Brad Cox wanted Florent Geroux to keep one thing in mind heading to the post for the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes and let his rider know giving him a leg up on Golden Mischief in the paddock Saturday at Keeneland.

“I said, ‘don’t forget, she’s accomplished a lot but she’s not graded stakes placed. Third is big here,’ ” Cox said.

Golden Mischief did a bit more than that, winning the Grade 2 stakes for fillies and mares and locking up a guaranteed spot in next month’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs. Golden Mischief won her third straight in the 6-furlong TCA, edging Chalon by a head with Vertical Oak third and favored Miss Sunset fourth.

“Obviously she as able to get there and get the victory,” Cox said. “It’s huge. Huge. … That was the plan, try to get her some graded black type. She got it and then some.”

The victory, Golden Mischief’s 10th in 21 starts and worth $150,000, significantly improved the Into Mischief filly’s pedigree a few months out from a planned mating with Horse of the Year Arrogate. Juddmonte Farms, which campaigned Arrogate and stands the son of Unbridled’s Song at its Lexington farm, purchased Golden Mischief for $475,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November selected mixed sale.

Previously trained by Steve Asmussen for Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, Golden Mischief showed up n Cox’s barn in December and immediately cut a positive impresson.

“She’s honest. She’s been honest her whole career,” he sad. “Look down the page and she knows how to win. She always gives you a big effort. We’ve been fortunate to have her since December.”

She finished fifth in her first start for new connections in the 5 ½-furlong Spring Fever in early March at Oaklawn Park – a race Cox said was too short off the layoff – before winning three of her next four. Golden Mischief came into the TCA off back-to-back stakes scores at Prairie Meadows and Mountaineer this summer.

The TCA was one of five stakes Saturday at Keeneland and 10 that made up the $3.95 million FallStars Weekend. Nine of the races were Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win And You’re In” events carrying an automatic berth for the World Championships Nov. 2-3 at Churchill.

Two automatic bids were handed out Friday – Restless Rider in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies after a victory in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades and Promises Fulfilled in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for his win in the Grade 2 Phoenix.

We wrote about Knicks Go and Blue Prize locking up automatic berths here. The others on the weekend were Bucchero (Turf Sprint) in the Grade 2 Woodford, A Raving Beauty (Filly and Mare Turf) in the Grade 1 First Lady, Next Shares (Mile) in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile, Strike Silver (Juvenile Turf Sprint) in the Indian Summer and Current (Juvenile Turf) in the Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon.

Here’s some additional tidbits from a big weekend at Keeneland, plus a quick report on Sunday’s jump races at Foxfield.

 

Worth Repeating

“He’s like a coiled spring, ready to explode. At least I hope he is.”
Brendan Walsh watching Extravagant Kid walk in the paddock before Saturday’s Grade 2 Woodford. He finished third behind defending champ Bucchero and Will Call

“He’s a good boy.”
Tainer Ron Moquett on Phoenix Stakes runner-up Whitmore

“That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes.”
Trainer Brad Cox after it was pointed out Golden Mischief prepped for her win in Saturday’s Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America in small stakes at Prairie Meadows and Mountaineer

“Kenneally’d.”
Walsh after his Excellent Sunset finished second to the Eddie Kenneally-trained Cheeky Cherub in the finale Sunday

“Nice pep talk.”
Text from Ben Gowans to TIHR’s Tom Law after spotting Tom chatting with Ben Colebrook prior to the Breeders’ Futurity

“This was an experiment to try and make a stallion in America, I guess they’ve done that.”
Colebrook on the Korean Racing Association Stud Farm’s Knicks Go

“I was prepping him for the Marathon. I didn’t want to ship him all the way to Belmont then ship him back, so I’m here where I can come 60 miles, prep him and run in the Marathon. Shipping can take a lot out of them. I didn’t want to chance that.”
Ian Wilkes after winning a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer Sunday with Big Dollar Bill

“She had two wins in ‘Win and You’re In’ so maybe they count that.”
Trainer Ignacio Correas joking about saving some money to supplement Spinster winner Blue Prize to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff

 

By the Numbers

1: Bourbon Chase 2011 t-shirt in the grandstand Saturday at Keeneland.

1: Big Baller Brand t-shirt in the paddock Saturday at Keeneland.

20: Grade 1 winners who raced as 2-year-olds at Ellis Park after Knicks Go and Next Shares scored at the highest level over the weekend.

1:41.66: Winning time for Big Dollar Bill in Sunday’s third race, a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer Ian Wilkes used as a prep for next month’s Marathon Stakes

 

Tweet of the Week

Kurt Becker @BeckerTrackside: Could have almost shaken hands with Bravo.
(After Blue Prize veered out in deep stretch of Sunday’s Spinster)

 

Steeplechase Report

Jack Fisher inched closer to the top of the NSA’s leading trainer standings with a pair of victories at the Foxfield Fall Races in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday afternoon.

Fisher sent out Sheila Williams’ Storm Team to win the featured $30,000 Virginia Equine Alliance maiden hurdle and DASH Stable’s Barhanpour to take the $15,000 maiden-claiming hurdle to bring his season tally to 14 winners. Sean McDermott rode both winners.

Fisher only trails Ricky Hendriks by a single victory, 15-14, for the season lead atop the trainer standings. The race for leading trainer by purses won also tightened, with Hendriks leading $667,350 to Fisher’s $648,000 through Sunday.

The other winners at Foxfield were Mavourneen for owner-trainer Gerard Galligan and jockey Bethany Baumgardner in the $20,000 filly and mare maiden hurdle, Straylight Racing’s Invocation in the 1 1/16-mile training flat for trainer William Santoro and jockey Jack Doyle and Why Not Racing’s Jump Ship in the Virginia-bred or sired 1 1/4-mile training flat for trainer Lilith Boucher and jockey Richard Boucher.

The TIHR handicapping standings didn’t change much with Sean and Tom each picking two winners and Joe adding a single. Sean went “all in” on Fisher, picking Barhanpour and Storm Team to increase his autumn season tally to five. Tom improved to four wins after picking Invocation and Jump Ship to close the card. Joe picked Storm Team to bring his total to three.

Two jump meets on tap for Saturday – the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg and Genesee Valley Hunt Races in Geneseo, NY – with Far Hills set for Oct. 20.