Frank’s Rockette Makes 4-Year-Old Debut in American Beauty
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said he has no long-term 2021 goals for multiple Grade 2 winner Frank’s Rockette, adding it’s simply one step at a time.
That first step begins with the $150,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Saturday at Oaklawn. The 6-furlong race marks a homecoming of sorts for Frank’s Rockette, a homebred for prominent North Little Rock, Ark., businessman Frank Fletcher who finished second in the $100,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters last April at Oaklawn.
Frank’s Rockette, based with Mott in south Florida, was again vanned to Hot Springs. She arrived at 4 a.m. (Central) Tuesday and jogged Wednesday morning, Mott said, in advance of her 2021 debut. She is the 2-1 program favorite for the American Beauty.
“I always look at the Oaklawn schedule because Mr. Fletcher lives there,” Mott said. “If it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other and it looks like that there might be a race that suits us over there, I’m sure he would enjoy seeing them run at Oaklawn. That’s the reason we’re there. I’m sure we could have found a race somewhere else. This one seems to fit the way she was doing, timewise, and, of course, the distance helped.”
Frank’s Rockette emerged as one of the country’s top female sprinters last year. After finishing second to Kimari in the Purple Martin, Frank’s Rockette won her next four starts, including the $100,000 Victory Ride Stakes (G3) July 4 at Belmont Park, $200,000 Prioress Stakes (G2) Sept. 5 at Saratoga and the $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) Oct. 3 at Belmont Park. Citing 6 furlongs as a major hook, Mott opted to challenge males in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland, where Frank’s Rockette concluded her 2020 campaign with an 11th-place finish. She was beaten 8 ¼ lengths by Whitmore, a seven-time Oaklawn stakes winner and Eclipse Awards finalist for champion male sprinter of 2020.
“She showed up every time, except maybe the last race,” Mott said. “It was a tough race. Naturally, it was a step into deep water. But with that being said, she really didn’t seem to run her ‘A’ race in there, either. Hopefully, that’s behind us and we’re going to come back into good form.”
Frank’s Rockette received what Mott termed a “working vacation” following the Breeders’ Cup and remained in “very light training.” She has five published workouts since Dec. 24 at Payson Park Training Center, the last a 3-furlong move in :35.80 Sunday morning.
“She’s actually seemed to have blossomed a little bit quicker this year,” Mott said. “Last year, she stayed a little light in the early part of the winter and really didn’t start looking good until like midsummer. But she seems like she’s carrying good flesh and doing quite well right at the moment.”
Oaklawn’s stakes series for older female sprinters continues with the $200,000 Spring Fever Feb. 27 and the $250,000 Carousel April 10. Mott said he has no specific targets in mind for Frank’s Rockette following the American Beauty or any long-range objectives like securing a first Grade 1 victory or returning to the Breeders’ Cup.
“We’ll play that card when it confronts us,” Mott said. “I’m going to say it’s just one at a time. It seems like every time she runs, we look the schedule over and discuss the next one.”
A daughter of super sire Into Mischief, Frank’s Rockette has a 6-4-0 record from 11 career starts and earnings of $606,103.
Mott was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 1986 and has 18 career stakes victories in Hot Springs, the last coming in 2014 with Close Hatches in the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares. Close Hatches was voted the country’s champion older dirt female that year.
Mott won the $750,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G1) for older horses in 1995 with Cigar, who was crowned Horse of the Year in 1995 and 1996.
Mott won three races at the 2020 Oaklawn meeting.
Lightly raced The Sound is the 2-1 program favorite for Friday’s featured eighth race, a non-winners of three allowance for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.
The Sound, a 4-year-old son of Hard Spun, is 2 for 3 overall for trainer Brad Cox and owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. All of The Sound’s starts came last year. He closed his campaign with a front-running maiden special weights victory Oct. 31 at Belmont Park and a front-running first-level allowance victory Nov. 29 at Aqueduct. The Sound, in his Sept. 26 career debut at Churchill Downs, finished second to Idol, who is entered in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2) for older horses Saturday at Santa Anita.
“The Sound has been a horse that’s been very difficult to keep sound,” Anthony said. “We had difficulty with him throughout the year, with just one little nagging thing after the other. The shins, and then we would end up with a quarter-crack. One thing or the other kind of kept him out of the mainstream, but we finally got him sound. He’s a good horse.”
Anthony said The Sound is named for a body of water, Somes Sound, in Maine. The Sound will be making his two-turn debut Friday.
Cox and Anthony teamed to win the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes for 3-year-olds Jan. 22 at Oaklawn with Caddo River, another son of Hard Spun.
Also entered in Friday’s eighth race is Dean Martini, winner of the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) last year for trainer Tom Amoss.
Probable post time is 4:40 p.m. (Central).
First post Saturday is 1 p.m. (Central). … A training double last Sunday for Randy Morse increased his career Oaklawn total to 285, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. … Nominations closed Thursday for Oaklawn’s $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 13 and the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds and $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares Feb. 15. … Grade 1 winner Wicked Whisper was retired following a fifth-place finish in the $150,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares last Saturday at Oaklawn, according to her owner, Alex Lieblong of Conway, Ark. Lieblong, chairman of the Arkansas Racing Commission, said Wicked Whisper will be bred this year to Uncle Mo.