|ELMONT, N.Y. – Frank’s Rockette fended off longshot Reagan’s Edge by a head in an exhilarating stretch-drive finish in the Grade 3, $100,000 Victory Ride to start the stakes action on a packed Runhappy Met Mile Day at Belmont Park.|
The 18th running of the Victory Ride, contested at 6 ½ furlongs on a fast main track for 3-year-old fillies, was carded as Race 3 on the Independence Day card. Frank Fletcher Racing’s Frank’s Rockette, last year’s runner-up in the Grade 1 Frizette over this track, went off as the 2-5 favorite by virtue of some strong sprint performances early in her sophomore year. Ridden again by Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who was aboard her for the Frizette and her winning 2020 debut at Gulfstream Park, Frank’s Rockette broke well from the rail and allowed Reagan’s Edge to set the tempo in the very early stages of the race.
Reagan’s Edge, who’s only wins came in a maiden race at Indiana Grand and an off-the-turf affair at Churchill Downs in her most recent outing, proved to be a stubborn foe at 13-1. She broke the sharpest of all under Jose Lezcano, and after briefly controlling the early lead ceded it to Frank’s Rockette, who moved up the inside to gain control.
Trainer Chad Brown’s Center Aisle, meanwhile, assumed a stalking position just to the outside of the top two, and the three fillies proceeded to run in carousel fashion around the racetrack. After a leisurely opening quarter-mile in 23.11 seconds, the pace picked up considerably with Frank’s Rockette posting a half in 45.52, as the top trio continued to roll along around the turn. In the stretch, Frank’s Rockette’s maintained the edge to the inside, with Center Aisle to the outside, and Reagan’s Edge battling on between horses. In the final sixteenth, an intransigent Reagan’s Edge was all out, but Frank’s Rockette hit the wire in 1:14.47, just a hundredth of a second off the track record recorded by Bear Fan in June 2004. Reagan’s Edge bested Center Aisle by three-quarters of a length for second. Up in Smoke and Miss Peppina completed the order of finish.
“She broke well enough, but not as quick as I thought she would,” Velazquez said. “Little by little, she got into the battle and I let her do what she wanted to do. At the end, she put in a really good fight. At the wire, I thought I had it. But right before the wire, I wasn’t sure we were going to hold on.”
With the victory, Frank’s Rockette improved her lifetime record to 4-4-0 from eight starts and increased her earnings to $413,603. She returned $2.90 on a $2 win wager. “When you looked at the race on paper, it looked like we’d be the clear speed and probably be a length or two in front on the backside,” said Frank Rockette’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott. “There was a horse hanging right with her. She didn’t break quite as sharp as I’ve seen her in the past, but she was able to open up a bit when she turned for home and had enough courage to hold them off. She had to work at it a little bit. It was not an easy win.”
While Mott added another graded stakes tally to his illustrious resume, he denied Cherie DeVaux, trainer of Reagan’s Edge, her first. Despite the near miss, DeVaux was very pleased with the effort of her tenacious filly.
“She’s just got a lot of fight in her. It’s so nice to have a horse like this in the barn that goes out and just tries every time we ask her,” DeVaux said. “She just played the break. In her maiden, she broke on top and went with it. Jose [Lezcano] did the right thing. He didn’t take it away from her, he didn’t try to get her to do something else. I’m happy with him, he made a really good decision.” Mott said he could target the Grade 1, $300,000 Longines Test on August 8 at Saratoga Race Course as Frank’s Rockette looks to break through at racing’s highest level. In 2019, Frank’s Rockette finished second in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga before playing bridesmaid again in the Frizette. “That’s what I’ve had my eyes on,” Mott said of the Test. “It’s a big challenge. The Test is a great race. We’ve won it a couple of times and it’s a very important race for 3-year-old fillies. If she’s doing well, I’d like to give her a try in there.”
Live racing resumes Sunday at Belmont Park with a 10-race card. First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.
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