ELMONT, N.Y. – Centennial Farms’ Rocketry will look to return to winning form in Friday’s $80,000 Miner’s Mark, a 12-furlong stamina test on Big Sandy slated on Opening Day of the 27-day Belmont Park fall meet which runs through Sunday, November 1.
Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, Rocketry sports a ledger of 24-5-5-4 with purse earnings of $660,110. The 6-year-old Hard Spun bay made headlines in 2018 with a memorable performance in the Temperance Hill Invitational where he covered the 1 5/8-mile distance in 2:40.18, besting Man o’ War’s 98-year-old track record of 2:40 4/5.
One start later in November 2018, Rocketry made the grade with a powerful score in the Grade 2 Marathon at 1 3/4-miles at Churchill Downs. The hard-trying horse has finished on-the-board in 4-of-8 starts since that effort and Jerkens said Rocketry is training well into the third start of his current campaign.
“He seems to be doing real good,” said Jerkens. “He’s a very steady horse and acting good and strong. I expect him to run good.”
Rocketry earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure in his Temperence Hill score [which he matched in the Marathon] and last year the horse earned a 94 Beyer when second in the 12-furlong Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational at Belmont to Marconi.
“He’s had some good races at Belmont. His race here in the Brooklyn was very good,” said Jerkens.
Junior Alvarado will take over riding duties aboard Rocketry on Friday.
Shortleaf Stable’s Klickitat, bred in the Empire State by EKQ Stables, enjoyed a productive summer at Saratoga, graduating in his 10th career start when wiring a state-bred maiden claiming turf route on August 7. The 4-year-old First Samurai chestnut followed on September 5 with another prominent score in a 1 1/16-mile restricted allowance route on the Spa turf that garnered a career-best 84 Beyer.
“That was a big step up for him the other day. I thought he ran a huge race,” said Jerkens.
Klickitat, a $220,000 purchase at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Preferred New York-bred sale, is a half-brother to 2017 Sleepy Hollow victor Evaluator.
Jerkens said Klickitat, who improved his record to 11-2-5-1, could come under consideration for the $150,000 Mohawk at 1 1/16-miles on the Belmont turf on October 24, as part of the Empire Showcase Day card which will offer eight stakes worth $1.2 million.
“We’ll nominate him. Later in the year you’ll get a horse that’s coming around even though they look like they might be a little overmatched,” said Jerkens. “Sometimes, in the fall when the weather cools off and they’re in good form and running against horses that aren’t as fresh, every once in a while they can get it done. We wouldn’t rule it out.”
Jerkens said he is looking forward to the debut of Chiefswood Stables’ homebred Weyburn. The Ontario-bred son of Pioneerof the Nile, out of the A.P. Indy mare Sunday Affair, is a half-brother to multiple graded-stakes winner Yorkton.
“I hope run him at the end of the month,” said Jerkens. “He’s a Pioneerof the Nile 2-year-old that’s training well. He looks like he could be okay.”
Weyburn breezed a half-mile from the gate in 48.45 seconds Saturday on the Belmont dirt training track.
Photo Credit: NYRA