Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Rocket Can

February 6th, 2023

Rocket Can kicked off his three-year-old season in a big way for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, rallying to a determined triumph in the Holy Bull (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. A second-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and fourth in the Arkansas Derby (G1) secured his position in the Kentucky Derby (G1) gates.

It isn’t surprising to see Rocket Can enjoying success on the Kentucky Derby trail. The gray colt boasts a pedigree combining speed with stamina, often a recipe for success in the Run for the Roses itself.

Rocket Can Pedigree
Harlan's Holiday
Into Mischief
Leslie's Lady
Rocket Can
Tough Tiz's Sis

Rocket Can’s sire, Into Mischief, needs no introduction. The record-breaking stallion has been the leading North American sire every year since 2019, becoming the first stallion to top the chart four years in row since Bold Ruler in the 1960s.

Into Mischief was a talented sprinter/miler who tends to pass on speed at stud, with his progeny winning at an average distance of 6.8 furlongs. But Into Mischief is also the sire of Kentucky Derby winners Authentic (2020) and Mandaloun (2021), so it’s certainly not unheard of for Into Mischief’s best runners to enjoy success over classic distances.

Rocket Can specifically shouldn’t have anything to worry about from a distance standpoint since his dam is Tension, a daughter of Tapit. Tention failed to make a mark in two career starts, but Tapit is a three-time leading North American sire best known for siring four winners of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1): Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016), Tapwrit (2017), and Essential Quality (2021). Tapit is also the sire of 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline.

Daughters of Tapit are proving productive as broodmares, foaling such notable names as Gran Alegria, Cody’s Wish, Tenfold, and Tripoli. The first two have proven best as sprinter/milers, with Gran Alegria winning half a dozen Group 1 prizes in Japan and Cody’s Wish nabbing the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). But Tenfold finished a close third in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1) and won the 1 1/4-mile Pimlico Special (G3) while Tripoli nabbed the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic (G1), demonstrating the ability of Tapit’s daughters to produce long-winded runners.

The specific cross of Into Mischief with Tapit mares has already shown significant promise, producing Untapable S. winner Pretty Mischievous and Golden Rod (G2) heroine Hoosier Philly, both winners on the 2022-23 Road to the Kentucky Oaks. The cross is also responsible for Soup and Sandwich, runner-up in the 2021 Florida Derby (G1) and a competitor in the Kentucky Derby.

Pedigree isn’t the only factor determining a horse’s suitability for the Kentucky Derby, but it definitely plays a part, and Rocket Can is bred for success on the first Saturday in May.

Further Analysis on Rocket Can