Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott followed up his success in last week’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) with Art Collector by saddling Rocket Can and Shadow Dragon to a one-two finish in the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Second choice in a field of eight three-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep, Rocket Can was hung wide all the way but proved to have sufficient staying power under Junior Alvarado, who was also aboard Art Collector in the Pegasus.
Racing in midpack down the backside, Rocket Man improved position around the far turn, took the lead approaching the quarter pole, and held off his 34-1 stablemate through the stretch to win by three parts of a length in a time of 1:44.97 over a fast track. He paid $7.20.
Following Shadow Dragon across the wire was West Coast Cowboy, who started as the longest shot in the field at 58-1. Legacy Isle finished fourth and was followed by Il Miracolo, Lord Miles, 6-5 favorite Cyclone Mischief, and pacesetter Mr Bob.
Owned by Frank Fletcher, Rocket Can earned 20 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1). Shadow Dragon earned eight points, West Coast Cowboy six points, Legacy Isle four points, and Il Miracolo two points.
This was the second win in five starts for the gray Rocket Can, who finished up the track in a pair of sprints at Saratoga but woke up when stretched out during the Churchill Downs fall meet. He broke his maiden by two lengths in the slop going 1 1/16 miles and followed up with a close second in an allowance over the same distance to Confidence Game, who was subsequently third in the Lecomte (G3).
“Progress has been slow but very steady with him,” Mott said. “He’s improved with each work and each race. It seems like once we got through that second race, his third and fourth race were very good.
“The way both horses ran we’ll try and separate the next time if we can. All the options are open at this point.”
Bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds, Rocket Can is by Into Mischief and out of Tension, a daughter of Tapit and the multiple Grade 1-winning Tough Tiz’s Sis. The latter, by Tiznow, also reared the Grade 2-winning producer Tiz Midnight.