May 18, 2024

Joy’s Rocket stretches out in Martha Washington; Frank’s Rockette, Lady’s Island clash in American Beauty

Joy's Rocket wins the 2020 Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds (Hodges Photography)

Martha Washington S. — Race 5 (4:06 p.m. ET)

Joy’s Rocket, one of last season’s more accomplished juvenile filly sprinters when she notched three stakes from Toronto to New Orleans, will have her stamina tested around two turns for the first time on Saturday in the $200,000 Martha Washington S. at Oaklawn Park.

The one-mile Martha Washington, won in the past by such standouts as Rachel Alexandra, Eight Belles, and Take Charge Brandi, will offer Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers. It’s the first of three point-scoring Oaks preps at Oaklawn, with the Honeybee (G3) and Fantasy (G3) coming later.

Joy’s Rocket, who notched the My Dear S. at Woodbine, the Songbird S. at Keeneland, and Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds, is the filly to beat  from a class and speed perspective. She faces just five other rivals, but much will depend on whether she can hustle to the front and subsequently avoid any duel from those that have displayed early foot in the past themselves.

Sylvia Q, a hard-trying first or second in all three attempts to date, is already proven around two turns and might possess the speed to keep Joy’s Rocket honest with blinkers being added Saturday. That might ultimately benefit a filly like Coach, a stalking type who captured the Rags to Riches S. and placed third in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill last fall.

Will’s Secret jumps into stakes company following a 2 3/4-length maiden in her fourth start, an off-the-turf test at Fair Grounds last month. The Steve Asmussen-trained Lady Lilly was a distant third in the Spinaway (G1), won a slow allowance at Keeneland, and was up the track most recently in the Golden Rod, while Novel Squall has been unplaced in both prior stakes engagements.

Frank's Rockette
Frank’s Rockette wins the Gallant Bloom (Coglianese Photos/Joe Labozzetta)

American Beauty S. — Race 8 (5:40 p.m. ET)

The $150,000 American Beauty S., a 6-furlong dash for fillies and mares, has come up a dynamite feature that will largely center around three of the entrants.

Frank’s Rockette, whose four-race win streak last summer and fall included the Gallant Bloom H. (G2), Prioress (G2), and Victory Ride (G3), is back in a more winnable spot after finishing 11th against the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland when last seen.

The freakishly-fast Lady’s Island, who’s won 12 of her last 17 starts, invades from Gulfstream, where she narrowly defended her title in the Sugar Swirl (G3) on Dec. 12. Adding fuel to the pace will be Amy’s Challenge, a three-time winner over the Oaklawn strip, including the 2019 edition of the American Beauty.

In the event of a complete pace collapse, the Grade 2-placed multiple stakes winner Wildwood’s Beauty would appear to be a threat for a share or more.