Big Showing Expected From Lunar Rocket
Going a half-furlong shorter gives Lunar Rocket a great chance of making all in Saturday's Howard Phillipps Memorial, facing old rivals Mister Bones, Sundance and Lottery Ticket, who had finished ahead of her at 1200 metres on January 7.
Partnered by claiming apprentice Javaniel Patterson last time out, Lunar Rocket broke sharp in her bid for back-to-back wins but had to contend with Gold Miner for the first two furlongs, and was forced to take on the speedster, who was sent to set up the pace for stablemate Lottery Ticket.
Lunar Rocket succeeded in chasing Gold Miner off the lead but was forced to do so in splits of 22.3. She approached the home turn with Gold Miner still in pursuit and turned for home in half-mile fractions of 45.2 with a cavalry charge behind her being led by Sundance and Lottery Ticket.
Sent on by Patterson she responded well and held her gallop to be two lengths clear with a furlong to run. However, the effort took its toll a half furlong out where Lunar Rocket was pounced on by Lottery Ticket and Sundance. Both gave way to Mister Bones, who was surprised at the wire by Classy Aviator, flashing home on his blind side.
Lunar Rocket finished fifth, only three-and-a-half lengths away, a gallant effort after having to take on and fend off Gold Miner before the others came calling a half furlong out.
Though she returns eight pounds heavier, Lunar Rocket's speed should easily take her to the front, giving her a rail-hugging run in to the lane ahead of rivals. If allowed to run freely by Halledeen, not overrating her as he did mid-November, she won't be caught.