Rocket Can – Kentucky Derby Context

April 19th, 2023

A projected stalker, Rocket Can will seek to establish up-close positioning in the Kentucky Derby. The gray colt rallied from fifth to win the Holy Bull (G3), and Rocket Can raced closer to the pace when second to Forte in the Fountain of Youth (G2) in early March. He must improve upon his last effort, failing to fire from off the pace when fourth as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby (G1), and early positioning appears key to Rocket Can’s chances in the Kentucky Derby.

Top Brisnet Speed: 98

Top Brisnet Late Pace: 108

Owner: Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, Frank Fletcher Racing Operations will be represented by their first Kentucky Derby starter after more than 30 years in Thoroughbred racing. A prominent owner in the Midwest, Frank Fletcher won his first race in 1989, and his son, Frank Fletcher Jr., oversees the racing stable.

Trainer: Bill Mott won the 2019 Kentucky Derby with Country House via disqualification. His ledger reads 11-1-0-1 since saddling his first Kentucky Derby starter in 1984. A three-time Eclipse Award winner, Mott owns 11 Breeders’ Cup wins and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Jockey: Junior Alvarado will make his fourth Kentucky Derby appearance, his best result being a fourth aboard Mohaymen in 2016.

Breeder/sales: A private purchase after failing to meet his reserve at auction, Rocket Can was bred in Kentucky by John and Susan Sykes’ Woodford Thoroughbreds. Based in Versailles, Kentucky, Woodford is perhaps best known for breeding champion and $7 million-earner Midnight Bisou, a half-sister to 2023 Kentucky Derby starter Verifying.

Sire: The reigning four-time leading sire in North America, Into Mischief produced back-to-back Kentucky Derby winners in Authentic and Mandaloun (2020-21). He also has Sun Thunder in the main body of the 2023 field and Cyclone Mischief seeking to draw in from outside the bubble. By Harlan’s Holiday, Into Mischief is responsible for six champions and a Horse of the Year. The 18-year-old stallion, a juvenile Grade 1 winner, stands at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

Dam: Rocket Can is the second foal to race and first winner from the mare Tension, a daughter of three-time leading sire Tapit, a renowned stamina influence having sired four winners of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. The Kentucky Derby has eluded him so far, but Tapit’s son, Tapit Trice, rates as a top contender in 2023. And along with Rocket Can, the 22-year-old stallion is also responsible for Disarm, Hit Show, and Kingsbarns as a broodmare sire.