April 16, 2024

Lady Rocket makes all the running in Chicago

Lady Rocket wins the Chicago Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

Lady Rocket broke on top in Saturday’s $200,000 Chicago (G3) at Churchill Downs and saved plenty for the stretch, drawing off to a 2 3/4-length score. Ricardo Santana Jr. was up on the five-year-old mare for Brad Cox, and Lady Rocket notched her fourth stakes win.

A nine-length romper in the Go for Wand (G3) at Aqueduct in December, Lady Rocket opened 2022 with a fourth in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland and a third in the May 8 Ruffian (G2) at Belmont Park, facing more early pressure in those setbacks.

She comfortably dictated the tempo on a clear early lead Saturday. Sconsin came with a run leaving the far turn, nearly drawing alongside the pacesetter in upper stretch, but Lady Rocket had more to offer and won convincingly under the wire.

Returning $9.80 as the 7-2 fourth choice in the wagering, Lady Rocket established splits in :22.67, :45.36, and 1:09.26 before completing seven furlongs in 1:21.62. The daughter of Tale of the Cat is campaigned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and Ten Strike Racing, and Lady Rocket has now earned $699,588 from a 14-7-3-2 record.

“We were impressed she was able to hold her speed this afternoon at seven furlongs,” Cox said. “I think she may be best at 6 1/2 furlongs and Ricardo gave her a little bit of a breather up the backside and I think that helped her holding off some really nice fillies and mares that were in this field.”

The competition will continue to get stiffer, but Lady Rocket has something going for her following Saturday’s confidence-builder.

The $500,000 Ballerina (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 28 is likely next, according to Cox.

Sconsin, the 3-1 favorite following a season-opening victory in the May 30 Winning Colors (G3), held second by 1 1/2 lengths over 7-2 Bell’s the One. Four Graces, Bayerness, Pennybaker, and Kalypso completed the order.

Bred in Kentucky by La Ciega LLC and Tale Of The Cat Syndicate, Lady Rocket was purchased for $420,000 at the 2019 OBS April sale. She’s the first stakes winner from the Eskendereya mare Allons Danser.