Saturday, December 27, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . December 27, 2008 . . . Officer Rocket worked speed both ways in the $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, ignoring a fiery pace early and then zooming up the rail late to win by a length. Rouse the Cat, favored at 2-1, was second, with Golden Country a neck back in third.
The win capped a fine day for Officer Rocket's connections. His savvy performance was the third win on the day for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker and the fourth for jockey Orlando Mojica.
Officer Rocket was far back early as Rouse the Cat took the quick lead and was pushed by Timbucto to a quarter in :21.69 and by Golden Country to fractions of :44.92 and :57.77. As Rouse the Cat and Golden Country fought it out in deep stretch, Officer Rocket fooled them both from the rail. Final time for the six furlongs was 1:11.48.
"He's usually up closer than that but there was a lot of speed in here and I told Orlando to see how it set up," said Maker. "Right about the sixteenth pole I thought we might get second, but then he came on."
The 9-2 third choice in the field of 12, Officer Rocket paid $11.60 to win.
Completing the order of finish were Darling Mon, Wait On Tate, Big Glen, Godolphin Gray, Timbucto, William Tell, Future Prospect, My Private Lake, and Junior College. Aquino was an early scratch. An objection by the rider of Golden Country against Rouse the Cat was not allowed.
The Holiday Cheer was Officer Rocket's first start for the Ramseys and Maker. The four-year-old colt ran in an optional allowance race at Churchill for an $80,000 tag in his last start and the Ramseys took him.
"I've always been a big fan of this horse since he was a two-year-old and won a stake in Chicago," said Maker. "Fortunately, when he was there for the taking Mr. Ramsey loved him too."
Officer Rocket in fact won back-to-back Chicago stakes at two, the Spectacular Bid outright and the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) in a dead-heat. On the 2007 Kentucky Derby trail he was runner-up in both the Southwest Stakes and the Rebel (G3), finishing behind Curlin in the latter, but a poor start in the Arkansas Derby ended his Derby quest. After going winless in five starts at three, he sat out eight months and returned at four to get three wins, four seconds, and a third from 11 starts this year. Bred in Great Britain, the Officer colt now has six wins, six seconds, and two thirds in 22 career starts for earnings of $371,783.
In addition to the Holiday Cheer, the Ramseys, Maker, and Mojica teamed up to win the fourth race with Drums of Thunder and the fifth race with Just Like William. Mojica also won the 10th race with Serna's Gold for David P. Holloway Racing and trainer Bill Connelly.
Turfway’s holiday live racing schedule continues Sunday through Wednesday, with first post at 1:10pm daily. Racing then continues uninterrupted with the opening of the Winter/Spring Meet on January 1, also at 1:10pm.