Blast off with Lunar Rocket
SPEEDY LUNAR ROCKET narrowly failed in her bid to pull off back-to-back wins on Saturday, an ambitious attempt at seven furlongs in which she was caught at the wire and lost by a neck to FRANCIA'S PRIDE.
Returning four days later for Wednesday's fifth race at 1,100 metres might appear too soon for a filly. However, it should be noted that LUNAR ROCKET was away for more than five months when she won at 1,200 metres on July 22, still making her fresh enough to compete on back-to-back racedays.
In addition, her July 22 victory was a stroll in the park, an uncontested nine-and-a-quarter-length win in which she hardly broke a sweat, hence trainer Joseph Thomas' decision to take a shot at seven furlongs up in class.
Reporting out of Thomas' barn on July 22 after winning maiden and non-winners-of-two for Fitznahum Williams, LUNAR ROCKET burnt rivals in 1:12.1, an awesome display of speed at 1,200 metres.
On her attempt at 1,400 metres, jockey Oneil Mullings throttled the filly's speed down the backstretch - two-fifths slower for each quarter, but was forced by DR BANNER to match 1:12.1 from her previous race.
The effort took a toll, enabling late-closing FRANCIA'S PRIDE, running seven pounds lighter, to tag the speedster at the wire.
DR BANNER returns for a speed duel with the filly but does so at 123lb, picking up eight pounds, whereas LUNAR ROCKET has risen by four pounds after beating the gelding by three-and-a-half lengths at seven furlongs on Saturday.
The other speed horses of note in the line-up are GOLD MINER and DRAGLINE, drawn at post one and two, carrying 54.0 and 56.0 kilos, respectively. SIMPLY THE BEST is out wide at post eight with 54.0, last out when fourth a month ago at 1,000 metres straight, after disappointing her handlers in back-to-back races.
Interestingly, champion jockey Omar Walker, Wayne DaCosta's stable rider, has abandoned GOLD MINER aboard whom he had defeated DRAGLINE, now his chosen mount. Walker's decision to partner DRAGLINE instead of GOLD MINER, especially after her subsequent loss to SIEMPRE BUENO, more than tells a tale.
LUNAR ROCKET is fresh, fast, light enough, and gets the perfect trip to make amends under Shane Ellis, who should easily make 54.0 kilos and certainly won't be in a rush to win the race from the half-mile.