Candy Man Rocket To Be Nominated to G2 True North

May 14, 2023

Candy Man Rocket on better behavior in the G3 Runhappy (NYRA/Coglianese)

A Couple More Runs for Veteran Channel Maker

Downtime for Rocket Can

Cody’s Wish Confirmed for Met Mile, Elite Power Possible

War Like Goddess Should Appreciate Turnback in G1 New York

NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Candy Man Rocket let his temper flare in April when last-of-10 in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Handicap at Oaklawn Park, but the 5-year-old Candy Ride horse was much sweeter Saturday en route to a 1 1/2-length score in the Grade 3, $175,000 Runhappy at Belmont Park.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and piloted by Junior Alvarado, Candy Man Rocket entered the Count Fleet off a pair of wins in Florida led by a two-length score in the Gulfstream Park Sprint on February 25. But the six-time winner acted up ahead of the Count Fleet and never factored.

On Saturday, Candy Man Rocket was better behaved and enjoyed a pace battle between race favorite Beren and Twisted Ride that set up a comfortable stalking score from third position in the six-furlong test for older horses.

“He got a little hot in the paddock, but he settled down once he got on the track and warmed up,” Mott said. “He wanted to be a little bit of a jerk to saddle, but outside of that he was fine.

“He had a nice stalking trip yesterday,” Mott added. “He was able to park outside of them and it worked out well for him. As long as we put him in the right races, he fits in well.”

Mott said he will nominate Candy Man Rocket to the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 True North on June 10 here.

Channel Maker captures the 2020 renewal of the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (NYRA/Coglianese)

Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s multiple Grade 1-winning multimillionaire Channel Maker finished a pacesetting sixth in Saturday’s Grade 1 Man o’ War, finishing less than two lengths back of the victorious fellow 9-year-old Red Knight and two heads and two noses away from second.

“He got beat ‘this far’ for second,” said Mott on Sunday holding his hands a hair apart. “He ran well. I have to give him a lot of credit. He didn’t get an easy lead, but he battled on pretty well.”

The English Channel gelding was pressed by Strong Tide through splits of 23.54 seconds, 49.18 and 1:15.06 over the firm course and stayed on strong down the lane as Red Knight and runner-up Soldier Rising rolled from the back of the pack. Red Knight crossed the wire a 1 1/2-length winner in a final time of 2:13.74.

Bred in Ontario by Tall Oaks Farm, Channel Maker boasts a record of 52-9-6-5 for purse earnings in excess of $3.7 million. He collected a Sovereign Award as Canada’s Champion 3-Year-Old Colt in 2017 and an Eclipse Award as the 2020 Champion Turf Male.

The 2019 Grade 1 Man o’ War winner also posted graded scores in the Grade 2 Bowling Green [2018], Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational [2018, 2020], Grade 1 Sword Dancer [2020], and Grade 2 Elkhorn [2022].

He entered the Man o’ War from a pair of off-the-board efforts in the Grade 3 William L. McKnight in January at Gulfstream and the Grade 2 Elkhorn in April at Keeneland.

“We’ll run him a couple more times and that will probably be it. We’re not going to try to overdo it,” Mott said.

One logical next spot for Channel Maker would be the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green on July 30 at Saratoga Race Course – a race the chestnut has competed in on four occasions.

Mott shared his admiration for Channel Maker’s longevity.

“He’s very sound and he loves training,” Mott said. “You see other horses in other disciplines and they only get good at nine…like some of your show jumpers and cross-country horses that are older. He’s a horse that’s hung around a long time.”

Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Rocket Can, winner of the Grade 3 Holy Bull in February at Gulfstream, finished ninth in last Saturday’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. The Into Mischief colt was as close as fifth at the third point of call before fading and finishing 11 lengths back of the victorious Mage.

“I liked his spot. I liked where he was,” Mott said of the Derby effort. “We’ll probably back off of him now for a bit.”

Cody’s Wish makes a stylish return to the races in the Churchill Downs (G1) May 6 (Daniella Ricci/Past The Wire)

Mott could have a pair of starters for the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 10 at Belmont Park with Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Cody’s Wish already confirmed and Elite Power, last year’s Champion Male Sprinter, listed as possible.

The veteran conditioner has won nearly every major race in New York, but the prestigious Met Mile has eluded him thus far. Mott said it’s possible he could run both horses in the one-turn mile for 3-year-olds and up.

“They could. We’ll see. Or I could run Elite Power in the True North,” Mott said.

Godolphin’s Kentucky homebred Cody’s Wish was a facile winner of the Grade 1 Churchill Downs last out on the Kentucky Derby undercard, while Juddmonte’s Elite Power was last seen taking the Group 3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint in February in Saudi Arabia.

War Like Goddess wins the Bewitch (G3)… again! (Coady Photography)

George Krikorian’s multiple Grade 1-winner War Like Goddess commenced her 6-year-old campaign in fine fashion, capturing the 12-furlong Grade 3 Bewitch over good going on April 28 at Keeneland.

The English Channel mare, piloted by Joel Rosario from post 4-of-5, tracked from third in the early running before taking command and drawing off a 1 1/2-length victory. War Like Goddess has previously been hampered by slow paces and traffic trouble, but she was not to be denied in her seasonal debut as a well-backed winner.

“She was parked outside instead of stuffed down in. They didn’t get a chance to lock her in,” Mott said.

Mott said War Like Goddess should appreciate a turnback in distance next out in the 10-furlong Grade 1, $600,000 New York on June 9 here as part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.

“The field should spread out a little more from some of her mile-and-a-half races,” Mott said.

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