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Miner’s Mark Preview: Will Rocketry Finally Turn Things Around?
Rocketry winning the 2018 Temperence Hill (Credit: NYRA)

Miner’s Mark Preview: Will Rocketry Finally Turn Things Around?

ELMONT, NY – Centennial Farms’ Rocketry will hope to finally turn things around and win for the first time in 22 months in Friday’s $80,000 Miner’s Mark Stakes at Belmont Park.

The Miner’s Mark is a 1 1/2-mile dirt marathon open to horses ages 3 and up. This year’s edition is the fourth event on a 10-race card that opens the 2020 fall meet and has a local post time of 2:35 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Miner’s Mark:

1. You’re to Blame 7/5 – The Todd Pletcher trainee rallied to finish second last time out in the 1 3/4-mile Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga. He won the 1 1/2-mile 2018 Greenwood Cup (G3), finished second in last year’s Grand Prix American Jockey Club over this same course and distance, and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez rides for the 12 time.

“He’s been a straightforward horse for us and always seems to try hard,” said assistant trainer Byron Hughes. “He’s one of those long-distance horses and we’re hoping for a big effort.”

2. Counter Offer 8/1 – He’ll give dirt another go after only hitting the board once in 3 tries last year when his connections tested him on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail. His 8-race losing streak ended this summer when he won back-to-back turf routes, including a 1 3/8-mile optional claiming event at Saratoga, so this distance shouldn’t be an issue – but will the surface?

3. Danny California 8/1 – He’s won 2 straight coming into this event, both 1 1/8-mile routes at Saratoga against allowance rivals (1 was restricted to New York-breds). He greatly contributed to rainer/co-owner Orlando Noda’s barn running so well at the recently-concluded Saratoga meet; he and his stablemates won 9 of 29 starts (31%) and hit the board in 18 of them (62%).

See the full Belmont Park plays from Ricky’s Rockets

4. Rocketry 6/5 – The narrow morning line favorite ended 2018 with back-to-back scores in marathon stakes but has been camera-shy in 8 starts since. He gets a new jockey aboard in Junior Alvarado, but that might help him rediscover his winning ways: Alvarado and trainer Jimmy Jerkens have won 11 of their past 31 mounts (35%) together since 2019.

5. Petit Fils 9/2 – The French-bred put together a 13-6-4-0 record in 2018 and 2019 while racing on turf and synthetic surfaces in his native country. His current connections are giving him his first dirt test after claiming him for $62.5k out of his last start, a seventh-place finish in a 1 3/16-mile optional claiming turf route at Saratoga last month.

“We’ll see if he actually likes the dirt or not,” said new trainer James Lawrence. “I prefer the outside post compared to the one or two hole. He can break out of there and do what he wants to do. I would anticipate him being forwardly placed. I think Rocketry will probably be the speed of the race and I would imagine we’d sit there with him and see what unfolds.”

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