Ce Ce Looks to Repeat in Filly & Mare Sprint

November 4, 2022

Ce Ce in her workout. Coady Photography

Frank’s Rockette, Obligatory, Goodnight Olive, Lady Rocket; Hot Peppers scratched

Breeders’ Cup Notes/Edited 

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Last year, Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce played the spoiler at 6-1 when she denied defending Filly & Mare Sprint champion Gamine the repeat victory in the 7f race. This time around, it is the 6yo Exclusive Quality mare that will have the bullseye on her back as she looks to join Groupie Doll as the only other two-time winner of the race in her final career start. She comes into Saturday’s race having won 11 of her 22 starts.

“I’d like to keep her at 50 percent or better for her career,” trainer Michael McCarthy said. “She’s a tough girl. You don’t see too many resumes like hers.”

Frank Fletcher Racing Operation’s nine-time winner Frank’s Rockette enters off a one-sided victory at Charles Town in the $250,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes Aug. 26, while Juddmonte’s Grade 1-winning Obligatory was last seen finishing a late-running third in Saratoga’s Ballerina two days later. Frank’s Rockette, 6-1, breaks from post five of 13 under Luis Saez, while Obligatory, 8-1, teams up with Jose Ortiz from post seven.

Obligatory getting a good work in Wednesday morning. Coady Photography

“They are two different types, where one is more of a speed horse in Frank’s Rockette and Obligatory prefers to lay back off the pace and make a big run, so we have that part covered from both ends if either one of them are good enough,” Mott said. “I think the distance is really good for Obligatory. She’s probably a little better at seven furlongs at Churchill Downs than she is here. I don’t know what it is about Churchill, but when she tips out there and comes down the middle of the racetrack, it seems to give her enough time to get the job done. She gets a lot of it done within the last 70 yards. I think Keeneland is maybe a little bit different type of racetrack, maybe a little more speed-favoring than Churchill, but both races are seven furlongs. She has shown an affinity for Churchill over Keeneland.

“Frank’s Rockette is coming off a really good race at Charles Town – a very good effort – going the same 7f distance she’s going to run here,” he continued. “She couldn’t be coming into it much better. I mean, she’s really doing well. I’m very happy with her.”

Five-year-old Frank’s Rockette, 11th in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint won by Whitmore, seeks her first Grade 1 victory. In three top-level tries, she owns two runner-up efforts and started this season with a trio of second-place finishes in stakes company. She is a half-sister to Mott-trained Juvenile Fillies contender American Rockette. She makes her 24th lifetime start.

Obligatory, a 4yo, won the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs and Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream Park this year and is a five-time winner from 13 starts.

Goodnight Olive looking totally focused in her workout. Coady Photography

Front Row Partners and Team Hanley’s Filly & Mare Sprint 3-1 morning line favorite Goodnight Olive continues to impress during the week leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. Trainer Chad Brown previously won the Filly & Mare Sprint in 2015, the first year the world championships were held at Keeneland, with Wavell Avenue. Goodnight Olive breaks from post eight of 13 and will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. 

“She compares favorably to Wavell Avenue, but she’s a closer to the pace kind of horse,” Brown said. “She’s coming in off fast numbers and condition-wise, she’s the best she’s ever looked. She’s been a horse who took a big step up from an allowance to a Grade 1 and she handled it well. There could be more there. It goes to show you how talented she is. The draw is good for her, right in the middle. It gives Irad a lot of options.”

By Ghostzapper and bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings in Kentucky, the 4yo filly has started six times and won five, including the Ballerina last out at Saratoga by 2¾ lengths. That effort came on just three weeks’ rest from a 6 1/2f allowance victory over the same course. Undefeated in three 2022 starts, she also started three times as a sophomore in 2021, with her lone loss being a second on debut at Gulfstream Park. Over the 7f she will tackle on Saturday, she is undefeated from three runs.

“Clearly she’s had some soundness issues in the past,” Brown explained. “They seem to be behind her this season, but I don’t want to take any chances. She had a hard race in the Ballerina, I think going to the well one too many times with her is risky. I like the way she’s coming in. Her race in the Ballerina is as good a race as you can have in this division going seven furlongs. If she runs that race back, she’ll be pretty tough. She’s not going to have to run better.” 

Lady Rocket breezing. Coady Photography

Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and Ten Strike Racing’s Lady Rocket will be a little bit of a long shot at 10-1 odds on the morning line for the Filly & Mare Sprint, but her trainer Brad Cox feels she deserves the shot. She enters the race off a second-place finish to Sprint contender Kimari in the Gallant Bloom at Belmont at the Big A Sept. 25. She will break from post 12 of 13.

“I love the post with her,” Cox said. “She’s been pretty consistent all year. I think you can throw the Ballerina (when sixth) out. She didn’t take to the kickback that day very well. So, hopefully, with the post she’s drawn and the speed on the inside of her, we should be OK.” 

Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso’s Hot Peppers has been scratched from the Filly & Mare Sprint according to the Breeders’ Cup racing office per the veterinarians.

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