(Everso Mischievous / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Qatar Racing’s Everso Mischievous looks for his second local graded score in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 John A. Nerud, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by two-time Eclipse Award winner Brad Cox, Everso Mischievous enters off a victorious 4-year-old debut in a one-mile optional claimer on May 31 at Churchill Downs. The Into Mischief bay made his third straight start at one-mile and he successfully returned from a layoff dating to an eleventh in the Grade 2 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets here on December 2.

Everso Mischievous entered his Cigar Mile try, which came over muddy and sealed going versus elders, on a three-race win streak including the local one-mile Grade 2 Forty Niner and a pair of seven-furlong scores in the Harrods Creek in September at Churchill Downs and an allowance in August at Saratoga Race Course.

Out of the graded stakes-winning Medaglia d’Oro mare Ever So Clever, Everso Mischievous initially sold for $600,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale before selling for $85,000 at the 2022 Keeneland November Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Tyler Gaffalione will be aboard from post 1 carrying a field-high 122 pounds – four pounds more than each of his four rivals.

Siena Farm and WinStar Farm’s Mullikin [post 5, Flavien Prat] will attempt to make the grade after starting his year 2-for-2 with a six-furlong allowance score in April at Keeneland and a seven-furlong optional claiming victory in June at Churchill Downs– both received a matching career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

Trained by Rodolphe Brisset, the 4-year-old Violence dark bay has finished in the top-two in 6-of-7 lifetime outings, all dirt sprints, only missing when a troubled fourth to cap his sophomore campaign in an allowance in July at Ellis Park.

“We did right by the horse last year. He totally needed a little break after his last race, where he acted up in the gate and fell flat on his face, got rushed up to the lead, it just felt like everything went wrong.” said Brisset. “We gave him time and it did very well for him physically. He’s been telling us we did the right thing.”

Brisset said the gate has always been a bit troublesome for Mullikin, who missed by a nose on debut in February 2023 at Oaklawn Park after a slow start that caused him to travel five lengths back in eighth position early.

“His only small weakness is the gate. We have learned from it and been working on it. We don’t really know why because in the morning he is very nice in the gate,” said Brisset. “In the afternoon, he wants to throw his head around a little bit. We have adapted and it looks like it has been working.”

Mullikin completed his final preparations for the Nerud with a sharp half-mile breeze in 48 seconds flat on Sunday at Keeneland.

“It was a typical work for him,” said Brisset. “We were not looking for anything too fancy, but he did it on his own and on the bridle, and it looked like he galloped out pretty strongly, too.”

Mullikin, a $500,000 purchase at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is out of the graded stakes placed Congrats mare Tulira’s Star, who is a half-sister to graded stakes-winner Mountain General.

LC Racing’s Pennsylvania homebred Ninetyprcentmaddie [post 2, Jose Lezcano] has finished second in four consecutive efforts but will look to break through on Saturday with Jose Lezcano returning to ride. Trained by Butch Reid, Jr., the 4-year-old Weigelia gelding’s most recent runner-up finishes came versus graded company in New York in the Grade 2 True North last out on June 8 at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Runhappy in May here.

Although entered in the six-furlong Alapocas Run on Saturday at Delaware Park, Reid, Jr. said Ninetyprcentmaddie is likely to run in New York after considering the advice of veteran jockey Jose Lezcano, who was aboard for a rallying second to Baby Yoda in the True North.

“I think it is a good spot, seven-eighths is perfect for him, but really, this is Jose Lezcano’s idea. He thinks he learned something about him last time after riding him in that race,” said Reid, Jr. “He suggested that we go ahead and take a shot. That is what we are going to do.”

Reid, Jr. explained that Lezcano felt like Ninetyprcentmaddie didn’t get going until he was away from the rail and into clear air after breaking from the inside post.

“He kind of stayed down on the fence and he wouldn’t get running for him. Once he finally wheeled him out and got him to switch leads, he finished up nicely,” Reid, Jr. said. “Lezcano thinks he’s got a good idea of him and I never want to discourage good ideas.”

Before the Runhappy, Ninetyprcentmaddie placed in the seven-furlong state-bred Page McKenney Handicap in April at Parx Racing, earning a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure. His subsequent graded stakes attempts on the NYRA-circuit earned that same number.

“I actually think his last race was better than the number they gave him,” Reid, Jr. said regarding the string of 90s. “I think that even if the Beyers don’t agree with me, he has improved with every start, and we gave him a lot of them. I mean that was almost three back-to-back races.”

Godolphin’s graded stakes-winning Kentucky homebred Prevalence [post 3, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] looks to improve off a second last out to Super Chow in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint on May 18 at Pimlico Race Course. Trained by Brendan Walsh, the 6-year-old Medaglia d’Oro gelding finished second in the same event last year to cap his past campaign.

Prevalence will travel to the Big A for the first time since his sophomore season when he was sixth in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial in April 2021. The following year, he won the seven-furlong Grade 3 Commonwealth in April at Keeneland.

Rounding out the field is the graded stakes-placed Coastal Mission [post 4, Arnaldo Bocachica] for trainer Jeff Runco. The West Virginia-bred Great Notion gray earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure in victory of the Frank Y. Whiteley in April at Laurel Park ahead of a fourth in the Maryland Sprint and a second in the Grade 3 Salvator Mile last out on June 15 at Monmouth Park.

The Nerud is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 11-race card that also features the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational in Race 6; Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks in Race 9; and the Grade 3, $200,000 Dwyer in Race 2. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.