Wicked Prankster pulls fast one in Md. Million Turf

“You know, it’s a good feeling,” trainer Sam Davis was saying Saturday afternoon while juggling two glasses of champagne, one empty. “When everything comes full circle, it’s a good feeling, especially when you’ve been thinking about it for two years.”

What Davis had been thinking about, the dream that became a plan that finally came true, was winning the $125,000 Maryland Million Turf with Wicked Prankster, a horse he’d claimed for $25,000 in September 2020 out of the Mosler gelding’s debut race.

And today it came true.

Under jockey Richard Monterrey, Wicked Prankster went straight to the lead, doled out manageable fractions, and had plenty in reserve to hold his dozen rivals safe to win by three parts of a length in 1:49.44 for a 1 ⅛ miles over firm turf. It was Wicked Prankster’s first stakes win, third victory this season, and fourth overall from 24 career starts. He has earned $218,121.

Wicked Prankster had won a first-level allowance going a mile on the turf just six days prior, and he had done so in similar, front-running fashion. 

While many trainers would hesitate to run a horse back on such short rest, Davis, who has a six-horse stable at Laurel Park, said it was all according to plan. That had been Wicked Prankster’s first start since July.

“We gave him a break over the summer because he had a strong spring,” Davis said. “So we figured if we’re going to prep him for the Maryland Million, then we had to breeze him like last Saturday or Sunday. So I saw the mile race, the allowance going a mile, and I’m like, ‘That’s perfect.’”

Perfect in lots of ways: in that it was a win earning good money for the barn, and perfect in that it prepared Wicked Prankster, whom Davis also owns, perfectly for his run today.

Wicked Prankster
Wicked Prankster won the Maryland Million Turf. Photo by Allison Janezic.

The presence of the speedy So Street made it seem unlikely that Wicked Prankster would be able to dole out early fractions of 48.30 and 1:12.89, as he had last weekend. They were faster today – 48.28 and 1:11.91 – but not too grueling for Wicked Prankster. After Nick Papagiorgio, winner of the Find Stakes earlier this year, pushed to within a half-length of the leader after three quarters, Wicked Prankster again moved away.

“It felt to me that when he put his ears out, he was going in a very comfortable pace,” Monterrey said. “So I waited as long as I could. When they started getting close to me, I chased him and I felt like I hopped on the horse.”

Street Copper, who was third in this event a year ago and whose half-brother Sky’s Not Falling won the Maryland Million Turf Sprint earlier on the card, rallied into second but could not bridge the gap. Crabs N Beer held third.

Wicked Prankster paid $11.80 to win and topped an exacta that returned $72.50 for a one-dollar wager. Post time favorite Midnight Hauler rallied mildly for fifth. Out of the Broken Vow mare Broken Trust Fund, Wicked Prankster was bred in Maryland by Country Life Farma and Broken Trust Fund LLC.

It was a story, in the end, of patience, and perseverance. For Davis, for Wicked Prankster, and for Monterrey, who was visibly emotional as an enormous throng swirled around him celebrating the triumph.

“I haven’t gotten that many opportunities [lately], and it’s really hard,” Monterrey said. “You know, you work hard, and you want the doors to open. For Sammy to stick with me and keep me on this horse and keep me on some other horses, I am very blessed and truly honored to be part of his success.”

In other turf stakes:

  • Coconut Cake snapped a 14-race losing streak with a hard-fought victory in the nine-furlong, $125,000 Ladies for fillies and mares. Trained by Tim Keefe for N R S Stable, et. al., Coconut Cake was ridden by Sheldon Russell, who picked up the mount after regular pilot Kevin Gomez was injured in a Friday spill.
  • Sky’s Not Falling, second in the Turf Sprint a year ago, took advantage of a nondescript effort by favorite and defending champ Grateful Bred to earn his first stakes win. Paco Lopez was aboard, picking up the mount from the injured Victor Carrasco. A homebred for R. Larry Johnson, the Seville gelding is trained by Mike Trombetta.