(Trainer Bill Mott conditions Candy Man Rocket / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the NYRA Media Team:
Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Candy Man Rocket will attempt to find additional stakes success as a sprinter, as Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott shortens him up in Sunday’s $100,000 Gold Fever for sophomores going six furlongs on Belmont Park’s main track.
Candy Man Rocket was stretched out as he navigated the Triple Crown trail, winning the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis going 1 1/16 miles in February at Tampa Bay Downs. Competing at the same distance and track a month later, the Candy Ride colt was rated and then tired in the stretch in an 11th-place finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.
Mott stretched him out to a career-long 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 3 at Aqueduct Racetrack, but a wide trip, followed by a lackluster finish in a ninth-place effort, will prompt his connections to try him in a sprint for the first time since his maiden-breaking 9 1/4-length score in a six-furlong contest in January at Gulfstream Park.
Since shipping from Payson Park to Belmont last month, Candy Man Rocket has recorded three works on the Belmont dirt training track, including a half-mile breeze in 47.95 seconds on Monday.
“It doesn’t look like his future is going long,” Mott said. “He’s doing well. We’ll shorten him up and see what happens.”
Junior Alvarado will ride from the outermost post 6.
Breeze Easy’s Roderick was sixth in his 3-year-old debut in the six-furlong Hutcheson over a sloppy and sealed Gulfstream track on March 6. As a juvenile, the Into Mischief colt went 2-0-1 in five starts, winning his debut by 8 1/4 lengths last June at Belmont while running third in the 6 1/2-furlong Nyquist in November at Keeneland before capping his 2020 with a 3 3/4-length win in a Churchill Downs allowance on November 29.
Roderick, purchased for $550,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Sale, will have the services of jockey Joel Rosario from post 3.
American Gentleman, who ran third in his first start for trainer and co-owner Natalia Lynch in his first start for his new connections on April 10 at Aqueduct, drew post 5 with Luis Saez set to ride.
Claimed from Madaket Stables for $40,000 out of a win in a six-furlong maiden claiming sprint at the Big A on March 14, American Gentleman was previously trained by Ray Handal. The gelded son of Hall of Famer American Pharoah was originally purchased for $240,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and will make his stakes debut in his eighth career start.
Last month American Gentleman was making his first start less than a month off that maiden-breaking half-length score, competing in a seven-furlong contest over a fast track under Junior Alvarado. Lynch said the distance and spot wasn’t ideal, but is confident he can propel that experience into a step up in class.
“He’s been doing great and has stayed right on track,” Lynch said. “He hasn’t missed anything. I really like the horse coming in. Last time out, it was a little quicker back than I wanted and I didn’t love seven furlongs for him, and I think it kind of showed because if the race was six furlongs, it would have set up better. I thought Junior gave him a great ride and he said he ran a great race, as well.
“As long as he runs his race, I think it’s just up to him,” she added. “The level of competition shouldn’t matter too much if he’s ready. He’s got another good rider in Saez on Sunday and I hope it just sets up for him the way it should. He’s always had that speed and I think it’s just a matter of getting him to relax.”
Susan Quick and Christopher Feifarek’s Beren, fourth last out in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Bay Shore on April 3 at Aqueduct, broke his maiden at fifth asking in February at Parx and followed with another win over the same track against optional claimers in March before trainer Butch Reid moved him up in class last month in a stakes race won by Drain the Clock.
The Pennsylvania homebred is 2-2-0 in seven career starts and will make his Belmont bow with jockey Manny Franco aboard from post 1.
Rounding out the field is The Wolfman, winner of two of his four career starts, including last out in an optional claimer on February 28 over a sloppy and sealed Laurel track, for trainer Phil Schoenthal [post 2, Trevor McCarthy]; and Doubleoseven, a winner against optional claimers on March 20 at Laurel, for conditioner Jeremiah O’Dwyer [post 4, Johan Rosado].
The eighth running of the Gold Fever is Race 8 on the nine-race card with a post time of 4:51 p.m. Eastern. First post is 1 p.m.