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LEXINGTON, KY – Winless since the 2018 running of this race was held at Churchill Downs, Centennial Farms’ Rocketry exploded in the stretch to take Friday’s $200,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
Last into stride as he broke from post 3 under Irad Ortiz Jr. at 11/1 odds, Rocketry took up his usual place at the rear of the field and watched a hotter-than-expected pace duel develop.
Dack Janiel’s was hustled to the lead and sat inside of Signalman and Plus Que Parfait through fractions of :24.40, :48.52, 1:13.59, and 1:38.54 for the opening mile.
Dack Janiel’s inched away to hold sole command at the top of the stretch, and though Mirinaque took over with a flourish halfway home, he, too, was no match for the late-running Rocketry.
Given the green light heading into the final turn, Rocketry looked like a renewed horse as he flew past rivals and stole the lead in deep stretch before crossing 1 length clear.
The Jimmy Jerkens trainee completed the 1 5/8-mile fast dirt marathon in 2:42.5.7.
“We broke out of the gates – and he doesn’t have too much speed – so I let him settle,” said Ortiz Jr. “He relaxed so well. By the 5/8 pole, he started picking it up on his own and he was moving really good. When I asked him going by the 3/8 pole, he responded really well. He likes this kind of race, with the long distance, and he ran great. He was picking up a ton of ground in the stretch, so I knew I had a good shot to get there.”
Mirinaque held second by 1 length over Dack Janiel’s, while Danny California faded to finish 3 further lengths back in fourth.
Muralist, Plus Que Parfait, Signalman, Tenfold, You’re to Blame, Job Security, Farmington Road, the 3/1 favorite Cupid’s Claws, Militiaman, and Ry’s the Guy completed the order of finish.
Rocketry’s win ended a 9-race skid and improved his overall record to 26-6-5-5. The 6-year-old intact son of Hard Spun has now earned $789,710.
Rocketry returned $25.20 to win, $12.60 to place, and $9.20 to show. Mirinaque brought back $32.60 to place and $19.80 to show, while Dack Janiel’s paid $23 to show.
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