(Frank’s Rockette / Coglianese Photo & Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team:
Frank’s Rockette, owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, continued an impressive sophomore campaign on Saturday at Belmont Park with a 7 3/4-length victory in the Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom.
A victory was nothing new for Frank’s Rockette. It was her fourth consecutive triumph, her fifth in six races in 2020 and sixth in 10 career starts. But by capturing the 6 ½-furlong Gallant Bloom, the Into Mischief filly passed another test for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, defeating older horses in her first opportunity.
Under jockey Junior Alvarado, Frank’s Rockette overtook pace-setting Pacific Gale at the top of the stretch and pulled away for the comfortable victory under a hand ride, earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure.
“I thought it was her best race yet,” said owner Frank Fletcher regarding his Kentucky homebred. “She’s gotten better all year long. I think she’s improved race-by-race. She was very good as a 2-year-old and we were very excited, but she’s gotten stronger. It was great to see her go 6 1/2. I always thought six was her best distance, but I thought she was very strong yesterday.
“The jockey told us that whenever she has a target in front of her, that’s when she’s at her best and knows what to do when the time comes,” added Fletcher. “He said he had a lot of horse under him when he asked her to go. Quite frankly, we were surprised she won by that many lengths running against older horses, but it all turned out good.”
Frank’s Rockette has never finished worse than second in all 10 of her starts [6-4] and has won three consecutive graded stakes races, starting with the Grade 3 Victory Ride on July 4 at Belmont going 6 ½ furlongs before shortening to six in a victorious Grade 2 Prioress effort on September 5 at Saratoga. Wheeled back almost a month later, the 6 ½-furlong Gallant Bloom did not daunt Frank’s Rockette, who posted her largest margin of victory since an 8 ¾-length debut win in June 2019 at Churchill Downs.
“She’s been an amazing filly,” Fletcher said. “She seems small on the track, but Bill Mott says she’s gaining weight as the year is going along instead of losing weight, so he really likes that. He says she does everything he tells her to do for workouts and is very quiet and friendly with everyone. She’s just getting a lot of confidence.”
Mott said Frank’s Rockette has blossomed as the season has progressed.
“She’s come from just off the pace before but she really does seem like she’s stronger right now than she’s ever been,” said Mott on Sunday morning.
A possible next spot could be the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on November 7 at Keeneland. The waters would get deeper for the seven-furlong contest, which figures to attract two-time Grade 1-winner Gamine, who put herself in contention for divisional honors after winning the Longines Acorn and Longines Test at Belmont and Saratoga, respectively.
Mott also discussed the possibility of entering Frank’s Rockette against the boys in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, which offers a potentially more favorable distance of six furlongs.
“It would be foolish to discredit the other one [Gamine] for any reason, it looks like at seven-eighths she’s a real freak,” said Mott. “Of course, it will come into the conversation should we run against the boys going six furlongs or seven eighths against her [Gamine.]”
Fletcher said he would relish the opportunity to race in the Breeders’ Cup.
“You don’t get many opportunities in this business to be in a race like that, so I’ll certainly listen to the trainer, but personally, I think she can hold her own,” said Fletcher. “I’m not saying she could win, but I feel confident she can put in a good race in a class of horses like that for the Breeders’ Cup.”
Frank’s Rockette is sired by Into Mischief and is out of Indian Charlie mare Rocket Twentyone, who won the 2011 Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie for Fletcher. Rocket Twentyone also Fletcher’s lone previous Breeders’ Cup participant, running 13th in the 2011 Grade 1 Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.
“Mr. Mott knows much more about whether we should or not and I’ll listen to him, but one of the biggest thrills of my life – I’ve only been in it once – was going to the Breeders’ Cup with Frank Rockette’s mother, so we’ll see,” Fletcher said.
Also under consideration for Frank’s Rockette is the $125,000 Fort Springs, a six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies on the November 7 Breeders’ Cup undercard at Keeneland.
G1 Joe Hirsch champ Channel Maker to make third attempt at BC Turf; Tacitus bullet breezes in company for G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup
Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Channel Maker secured his fourth Grade 1 win with a stellar front-running performance in Saturday’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
The victory marked Channel Maker’s second win from four Joe Hirsch starts, having previously won in 2018. His previous Joe Hirsch efforts included a sixth in 2017 and a second last year.
Bred in Ontario by the Tall Oaks Farm of Ivan Dalos, the 7-year-old was purchased privately early in his sophomore season and transferred to the care of Mott.
Channel Maker scored his first win for Mott in his fifth attempt by taking the 12-furlong Breeders’ Stakes, third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, by a nose when traveling his preferred 12 furlongs on Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor turf course.
The veteran English Channel gelding now boasts a record of 36-7-5-4 with purse earnings in excess of $2.63-million with his other Grade 1 scores coming in the 2019 Man o’ War at Belmont and the Sword Dancer in August at Saratoga, which offered a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“We got him as a 3-year-old and it took us a little while to get through the ‘one-other-than’ condition,” said Mott. “It’s interesting how you go from that and he has now developed into winning four Grade 1s. He was a nice horse and we purchased him because he looked like he had potential, but he didn’t really get going until he won the Breeders’.”
Channel Maker paired up back-to-back 108 Beyers for his last two winning efforts.
“I love the horse. He’s run two huge, huge races,” said Mott.
Channel Maker is out of the late Horse Chestnut mare In Return, who also produced multiple Grade 1-winner Johnny Bear, also by English Channel, and a stakes-winning half-sister by Court Vision, the Ontario-bred Court Return, who ran third in the Grade 2 Canadian in September at Woodbine.
Mott said he is cautiously optimistic about Channel Maker’s chances as he makes a third attempt at the 12-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“You don’t know what’s going to show up [in the Breeders’ Cup.], but it seems like he came back good,” said Mott. “He’s run two spectacular races, has he got three in a row in him – we don’t know. It’s not going to cost us anything to find out.
“I would think in the fall you could get soft ground there,” added Mott. “That would be in his favor.”
Juddmonte Farms’ regally bred Tacitus worked a bullet half-mile in 47.20 seconds Sunday morning on Big Sandy working in company with Will Sing for Wine, who applied pressure to the pacesetter.
“The track was pretty quick. His work looked good,” said Mott. “He went out with his ears up. [Will Sing for Wine] was just a length off to have somebody push him along a little bit.”
Tacitus will target Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 10-furlong test on Big Sandy for 3-year-olds and upward with a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the line.
Jose Ortiz will have the call on Tacitus, a 4-year-old Tapit grey who boasts a record of 13-4-4-2 with more than $2.9 million in earnings. Out of the champion mare Close Hatches, Tacitus captured the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and Grade 2 Wood Memorial last year and added the Grade 2 Suburban to his ledger in July at Belmont.
The probable Jockey Club Gold Cup field includes Danny California (Orlando Noda), Happy Saver (Todd Pletcher), Mystic Guide (Michael Stidham), Plus Que Parfait (Brendan Walsh), and Prioritize (H. James Bond).
A busy Saturday of racing at Belmont for Mott also included off-the-board efforts from Moon Over Miami [sixth], who captured the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs in September, and South Bend [seventh] in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.
“I guess there was a difference in the competition from the Dueling Grounds Derby to what he faced here,” said Mott. “I don’t know that he ran quite as good a race as he did down there but I suppose the first two or three horses in here were better.”
G1 Belmont Derby-winner Gufo possible for G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf or G1 Hollywood Derby
Trainer Christophe Clement has been excited about Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo all season long, but the conditioner’s enthusiasm reached new heights after the son of Declaration of War captured Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational as the 7-5 favorite.
Piloted by Junior Alvarado, who also guided Frank’s Rockette to a powerful victory in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom earlier on the card, Gufo tracked a leisurely pace in fourth and came under urging around the far turn before coming into light contact with stakes-winner Moon Over Miami into the stretch and came home a one-length winner, producing a career-best 94 Beyer.
The Belmont Derby Invitational is a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” event and offers an automatic entry into the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, but Clement has not committed to the race just yet and said his newly minted Grade 1-winner could await the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on November 28 at Del Mar.
“We’ll see how he comes out of yesterday’s race and how he trains,” Clement said. “He is going to be a stayer. He will be a lovely horse for next year. We always thought about him being an exciting 3-year-old and he’s going to be a fun horse to have.”
Never off the board in seven career starts, the five-time winning Gufo won the May 2 English Channel at Gulfstream Park before capturing the Grade 3 Kent on July 4 at Delaware Park, where he defeated next-out stakes winners Pixelate and Vannzy. He arrived at the Belmont Derby off a late-closing runner-up finish in the Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 15 to Domestic Spending, who was scratched from the Belmont Derby after spiking a temperature.
Gufo, which is the Italian word for “owl,” was bred in Kentucky by John Little and Stephen Cainelli and is out of the Petionville mare Floy, who also produced multiple graded-stakes winning turf miler Hogy.
Clement breezed a number of upcoming stakes starters on the inner turf Sunday morning, including Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader, who will run in the Grade 2, $150,000 Hill Prince on October 12 at Belmont.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman, William Sandbrook and Cheryl Manning, the son of Declaration of War went a half-mile in 49 seconds flat. He has not raced since finishing fifth in the Saratoga Derby Invitational as the beaten favorite. He will be cutting back to 1 1/8 miles for the Hill Prince after the 1 3/16-mile Saratoga Derby.
“He had a good work this morning,” Clement said. “We’ll go for the Hill Prince next week and then take things from there.”
R Unicorn Stables’ graded stakes placed Call Me Love worked a half-mile in 49.07. Nominated to the Grade 1, 250,000 Flower Bowl Invitational on October 10, the daughter of Sea the Stars will bypass the mile-and-a-quarter event in favor of the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3, $100,000 Athenia on October 25.
“She worked well this morning,” Clement said. “We’ll target the Athenia. I think she has too much speed for the Flower Bowl.”
Among Clement’s Sunday morning turf workers included a trio of horses that have yet to make their North American debut.
Magisterium, a bay juvenile filly by Elzaam, worked a half-mile in 50.75 seconds in her second recorded work for Clement. She has never been beaten more than a neck in four starts in England for former conditioner Michael Dods.
Clement said the Grade 3, $100,000 Matron, a six-furlong turf sprint on October 11, as a possibility for Magisterium, who was a two-time winner going seven furlongs overseas.
“She just came from Europe,” Clement said. “She worked average last week but worked much better this week. I’m not sure if we’ll go six furlongs in the Matron or go longer. I’ll have to think about it.”
Magisterium is out of the Dubawi mare Dubaya, who also produced French Group 3 winner Comedy.
Mutamakina, a 4-year-old daughter of Nathaniel, also recorded her second breeze for Clement and went a half-mile in 50.07.
Bred in Great Britain by Widgham Stud, Mutamakina was second to Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sottsass in the Group 2 Prix Niel last September at Longchamp. Her third dam is 1995 European Horse of the Year Ridgewood Pearl.
Clement said plans on giving the well-bred filly a little more time before making her North American debut. Mutamakina, previously trained by Carlos Laffon-Parias, posted a record of 9-2-2-1in France where she was twice Group 2-placed.
“I had the Flower Bowl in the back of my mind, but I will probably pass and train for a stakes later on. I don’t think she’s quite ready to run just yet,” Clement said.
Zarkallani, a gelded 4-year-old son of Invincible Spirit out of 2008 Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava, worked a half-mile in 50.07 seconds for Clement, and is possible for the Grade 2, $150,000 Knickerbocker on October 12.
“I like his works,” Clement said. “He may run in a race like the Knickerbocker, or maybe somewhere else, but I need to find him a race.”
Previously trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, Zarkallani was seventh last out on July 22 in the Group 3 Grand Prix de Vichy.
G2 Kelso-winner Complexity earns 110 BSF; Sistercharlie leads Brown-trained stars on the work tab
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown won a pair of graded races on Saturday taking the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park with Breeders’ Cup-bound Complexity and the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland with reigning Champion Turf Female Uni.
Owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables, Complexity earned a career-best 110 Beyer for his prominent score in the one-turn mile Kelso in which he got the jump on multiple Grade 1-winner Code of Honor, who had to settle for second.
Brown said Complexity will now point to the two-turn Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, although he will also nominate the 4-year-old Maclean’s Music colt to the six-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
“He ran super yesterday,” said Brown. “I’m pointing him towards the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. I think six furlongs might be a little quick for him, but I’ll keep him eligible for both races.”
A five-time winner from nine starts, Complexity captured the 2018 Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont and was runner-up in the Grade 1 Forego on August 29 contested during a rainstorm over a sloppy and sealed Saratoga main track.
Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Robert LaPenta and Bethlehem Stables’ Uni earned a 99 Beyer in her successful title defense in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland. The 6-year-old More Than Ready chestnut overtook stablemate Newspaperofrecord in deep stretch to secure her fourth career Grade 1 win with a one-length score over Beau Recall, who nosed out Newspaperofrecord for place.
Brown said Uni will return to Belmont to prepare to defend her title in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile against the boys on November 7 at Keeneland.
“Uni ran really well and we’ll bring her back here to train up to the final start of her career in the Breeders’ Cup Mile,” said Brown. “Hopefully, she can defend her title.”
Klaravich Stables’ Newspaperofrecord, who captured the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, has enjoyed a productive 4-year-old campaign with wins in the Grade 3 Intercontinental on June 6 and the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on June 27, both at Belmont.
Brown said the Irish-bred daughter of Lope de Vega could target the Grade 1 Matriarch, a one-mile turf test on November 29 at Del Mar.
“Newspaper will come back here and I’ll talk to Seth Klarman about if we want to run her one more time or not this year,” said Brown. “If we do, it would be in the Matriarch. We could just rest her.”
Brown said Newspaperofrecord is likely to return to the races as a 5-year-old.
“I would say probably if she is in good health we’d like to run her another year,” said Brown.
Brown breezed a number of upcoming stakes starters on the Belmont inner turf on Sunday morning, including the Peter Brant-owned 2018 Champion Turf Female Sistercharlie, who went five-eighths in 1:02.88.
The breeze took place less than an hour before the Brant-owned Sottsass, Sistercharlie’s 4-year-old half-brother by Siyouni, captured the prestigious Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Sottsass is trained by Jean-Claude Rouget.
“I’m so happy for Peter,” said Brown. “It’s a race he’s wanted to win for a long time. He kept him over there this year to point for that race and I’m so happy that it worked out. It’s an incredible family.”
Both Sistercharlie, a seven-time Grade 1-winner, and Sottsass are out of the Galileo mare Starlet’s Sister, who also produced the Group/Graded winner My Sister Nat, a 5-year-old Acclamation mare who captured the Grade 3 Waya in August for Brown and Brant.
Sistercharlie, who ran third in both the Grade 2 Ballston Spa and Grade 1 Diana this summer at Saratoga, will look to secure the first win of her 6-year-old campaign in Saturday’s 10-furlong Grade 1, $250,000 Flower Bowl which offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November at Keeneland.
“The breeze went good,” said Brown. “She’s running back into form. Her last race was an acceptable one. She got a late start this year but I think she’ll run well.”
Sistercharlie is likely to square off with stablemates Cambier Parc and Nay Lady Nay in the Flower Bowl.
OXO Equine’s multiple Grade 1-winner Cambier Parc worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 Sunday on the Belmont inner turf.
“She breezed good. She’ll run in Flower Bowl,” said Brown.
The Medaglia d’Oro bay, out of Canada’s 2007 Horse of the Year Sealy Hill, captured the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks and Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup last year in a sophomore campaign that also included wins in the Grade 3 Wonder Again at Belmont and the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park.
First Row Partners and Hidden Brook Farm’s Irish-bred Nay Lady Nay, a multiple graded-stakes winning 4-year-old daughter of No Nay Never worked a half-mile in 49 flat on Saturday on the Monmouth Park main track.
Nay Lady Nay made the grade last year in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs and on July 18 added the Grade 3 Matchmaker at Monmouth to her ledger.
Likeable could to train up to G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Following an impressive maiden triumph at second asking on September 19, Likeable could train up to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 6 at Keeneland trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Owned by Repole Stable, Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable, and Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Farm, the son of freshman sire Frosted led at every point of call in his maiden victory, extending his advantage throughout the one-turn mile and crossed the wire an 8 ¼-length winner while registering an 81 Beyer.
Pletcher said another option would be the Grade 3, $100,000 Nashua on November 8 at Aqueduct.
“We are considering the Nashua or training up to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Pletcher, who won the Juvenile with eventual champions Uncle Mo (2010) and Shanghai Bobby (2012). “We discussed it with the owners and are keeping it in mind.”
Bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Likeable is out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Dashing Debby, who also produced multiple Grade 1-placed Dawn the Destroyer.
On Saturday, Pletcher sent out No Word and Mo Ready to a respective second and third-place finishes in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational.
Owned by Wertheimer and Frere, No Word was second beaten a length to Gufo in the 1 ¼-mile event, where he sat two lengths off a leisurely pace in third and briefly held command in the stretch before being passed up by Gufo.
Pletcher said the homebred son of Silent Name is likely for either the $150,000 Bryan Station going nine furlongs on the turf on November 6 at Keeneland or the Grade 1, $300,000 Hollywood Derby on November 28 at Del Mar.
“We’re pleased with his performance,” Pletcher said. “He ran hard, he just was second best on the day. He’ll either run back at Keeneland on November 6 or the Hollywood Derby. He’ll have one more run this year.”
No Word was previously a close third beaten a half-length in the Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 15 after besting winners going nine furlongs on July 9 at Belmont Park.
Repole Stable’s New York homebred Mo Ready rounded out the trifecta in his graded stakes debut, where he set the pace under jockey Kendrick Carmouche and fought hard in the stretch to finish 2 ¾ lengths behind Gufo.
“We felt like he’d handle the distance based off the way he breezed, galloped out and ran his races,” Pletcher said. “He was galloping out pretty strongly, so we were optimistic that he would handle the distance and we thought he ran well first time in a stake.”
Pletcher was scheduled to run Grade 1 Fourstardave winner Halladay in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile yesterday at Keeneland, but the veteran conditioner said he scratched the gray or roan son of War Front due to a hind leg infection.
“It was bad timing, but hopefully we can get it cleared up and ready for the Breeders’ Cup [Mile],” Pletcher said.
G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic still a possibility for Code of Honor
Following a runner-up performance in Saturday’s Grade 2 Kelso, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey did not rule Code of Honor out of contention for the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
McGaughey said if Code of Honor does go to the Breeders’ Cup, he would prefer the 10-furlong Classic rather than the Dirt Mile.
“We’ll have to wait and see how he comes out of it, but I’d be more inclined to run him a mile and a quarter,” McGaughey said. “A mile at Keeneland they start right on the turn and if you draw an outside post you’re probably done.”
McGaughey used the Kelso as a Breeders’ Cup Classic prep for Honor Code in 2015, who finished third in both races en route to Champion Older Horse honors.
A William S. Farish homebred, the 4-year-old Noble Mission chestnut colt was beaten 2 ¼ lengths to post time favorite Complexity in the one-turn mile Kelso.
McGaughey said Code of Honor is more suited for the classic distance of a mile and a quarter, having won last year’s Grade 1 Runhappy Travers at Saratoga and Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park [via the disqualification of Vino Rosso].
“I thought he ran fine,” McGaughey said of the Kelso effort. “The first quarter wasn’t that fast. I think the way the race set up with a four-horse race got us out of our game plan. I thought he ran well. They ran fast and the winner is a nice horse and he kind of had it his way. It made it a sprint to the end and we’re probably not a sprinter.”
Code of Honor has not won since making his 4-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Westchester on June 6 at Belmont Park. Prior to the Kelso, he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Whitney and was a late-closing third in the Grade 1 Runhappy Met Mile.
McGaughey said that Code of Honor could race next year as a 5-year-old.
“All things being equal, I think he will run next year,” he said.
McGaughey worked a handful of stakes contenders on the turf on Sunday morning, including Phipps Stables’ Breaking the Rules, who is scheduled to make his next start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Knickerbocker on October 12.
The 5-year-old son of War Front out of the graded stakes-placed A.P. Indy mare Protesting went five furlongs in 1:00.80.
“I thought he worked really well,” McGaughey said. “He eased away from the pole and finished up really well. He’ll go to the Knickerbocker.”
Breaking the Rules was a last out fourth as the beaten favorite in the Lure following back-to-back allowance victories at Belmont and Saratoga.
McGaughey said that one can expect to see a different horse show up in his upcoming engagement.
“He ran well up there [at Saratoga], but he came back fourth in the stakes,” said McGaughey, who won the Knickerbocker with Boisterous in 2011-12. “I think he’ll be a different horse this time. I don’t think he was real comfortable down on the inside. Johnny [Velazquez] had been riding him on the outside, but he was at the Derby and couldn’t ride.”
Allen Stable’s Civil Union worked five furlongs in 1:02.22 in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 1, 250,000 Flower Bowl Invitational, which McGaughey won with War Flag in 2017.
“She went just fine this morning. She went 1:02 and change and did it well. She’s going to go to the Flower Bowl,” McGaughey said.
McGaughey also reported that Emory Hamilton’s two-time allowance winner Hungry Kitten, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.22, will target the Grade 3, $125,000 Dowager on October 18 at Keeneland going 1 ½ miles on the turf.