Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and jockey Junior Alvarado are really enjoying their Saturdays in South Florida this winter.
One week after this team Won the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes with ART COLLECTOR, the trainer/jockey combo chalked up another Gulfstream Saturday success on February 4th.
This triumph was the $250,000 Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes.
ROCKET CAN, a gray son of INTO MISCHIEF, prevailed by three-quarters of a length over another Mott barn trainee SHADOW DRAGON.
Alvarado guided ROCKET CAN in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull in the same fashion as he did ART COLLECTOR, settling his mount just off the pace in the clear on the outside before making a move on the second turn.
Sitting 5th, a couple of lengths off soft fractions of :23.92 and :48.84 set by MR. BOB, Alvarado then gave him his cue and ROCKET MAN responded, swooping into action with a four-wide bid on the second turn, pulling into 3rd place as LEGACY ISLE, who had pressed the pace for the opening half-mile, took over the lead for a brief moment after six furlongs in 1:13.76.
Almost as quickly as LEGACY ISLE took the lead, he lost it to ROCKET CAN, who came into the stretch with about a length lead over his closing stablemate SHADOW DRAGON. Though the latter had momentum, he was unable to gain significant ground on ROCKET CAN down the stretch.
Saturday’s effort seemed to bolster Mott’s confidence in the stamina of ROCKET CAN.
“It seems like he can keep going. Hopefully, another sixteenth is good, and another three-sixteenths is even better,” said Mott. “Time will tell.”
Stepping out of New York-bred company in just his third start, SHADOW DRAGON also pleased the Hall of Fame trainer with his runner-up finish at 34-1 odds.
“It was a great race for him. I’m very pleased with his effort for a horse that’s run only twice,” said Mott.
ROCKET MAN brought back $7.20 for a $2 Win bet, while SHADOW DRAGON paid $22 to Place. A $2 Bill Mott Exacta was worth $149.40.
The Holy Bull serves as a prep for the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 1st at Gulfstream, with another major race, the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes, in between on March 4th.
The champion 2-year-old male of last year, FORTE, is expected to return in the F.O.Y.