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Plans Pending for Rocket Can After Oaklawn Win

After a disappointing Oaklawn Park debut, Rocket Can  returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in more than a year in the 10th race March 16 for jockey Flavien Prat, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, and owner Frank Fletcher.

Rocket Can, who was making his 4-year-old debut in the $141,000 allowance race for older horses at one mile, was a 1 1/2-length winner over Tapsasional . Rocket Can ($4.80) covered the distance over a fast track in 1:37.77.

“It was good,” Mott said moments after the victory. “He was very geared up in the paddock, which a lot of horses, if they haven’t run in a long time, they’ll get that way. So, I was slightly concerned about that. I mean, he wasn’t washed out or anything, but he was fired up. He was ready to do something.”

In his only other Oaklawn appearance, Rocket Can finished fourth as the favorite in the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1)—a race Fletcher, an Arkansas native, covets more than any—last April. Saturday marked Rocket Can’s first start since finishing ninth in last May’s Kentucky Derby. Rocket Can recorded workouts in June and early July at Saratoga before Mott pulled the plug on Rocket Can’s 2023 campaign. The gray son of Into Mischief   returned to the work tab Jan. 15 at Payson Park Training Center, Mott’s South Florida winter base.

“I don’t know if the right word is ‘nondescript,’ but he wasn’t moving well and we just gave him time,” Mott said. “I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It just took a while for him to kind of get over it. I don’t know what it was. Usually, when you give a horse time, you can kind of figure it out. But with him, he just didn’t seem to be as smooth as he should have been.”

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Mott said next-race plans are pending for Rocket Can, who won for the first time since the February 2023 Holy Bull Stakes (G3). Rocket Can is nominated to the Oaklawn Mile (G3) March 30 at Oaklawn, but Mott said the colt will need more time before his next start.

“He’s actually going to go back to Florida and then we’ll regroup,” Mott said. “I want to give him four or five weeks. I guess that leads us to (Kentucky) Derby time. I don’t know what kind of race that would put us in. We’ll see.”

Saturday’s victory was the third in nine lifetime starts for Rocket Can, increasing his earnings to $468,013.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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