Rocket Star suffered a bit of scrimmaging at a crucial stage in the Inglis Ready2Race Sale Stakes (1000m) three weeks ago, but still nearly redeemed himself when put back on an even keel, only to be denied by Big Hearted by a short head.
Jockey Callan Murray and trainer Ricardo Le Grange duly lodged an objection, but the Stewards went in favour of Big Hearted.
There wasn’t to be any chequered run for the son of Star Witness in the $75,000 Thoroughbred Breeders Australia Centenary Stakes (1100m) this time around – at least not as much.
While the big gap of two and three-quarter lengths on the equally talented Admiral Winston (A’Isisuhairi Kasim) spoke volumes about his untapped potential, the journey to the top prize was not all that clutter-free.
“We didn’t get the easiest of runs today,” said Murray.
“He copped a big bump at the top of the straight, but he’s such a talented horse. He knew what he was doing and put the race to bed.
“In my opinion, he should have won at his last start. He got checked and it was still a huge effort to finish second, especially as the 1000m was on the sharp side.
“At home, he’s very naughty in the morning. All credit should go to Ricardo who has got him to relax in trackwork.
“He can only improve further with more racing.”
Le Grange said it was his Friday night winner Golden Dash who gave him the confidence it could well be Rocket Star’s day in the sun at his second time of asking.
“He had the measure of Golden Dash by seven lengths in a trial, and that same Golden Dash beat a smart field on Friday,” said the South African handler.
“That was a very good formline which told me he should be a good chance today.
“Very well done to the owner Rudy (Mendoza), whom I met at the Magic Millions sale. He was looking for a horse and I found this fellow for him.
“That win today sure put the last run behind us. He’s a very smart horse.
“A big thank you to Callan. To ride at 55kgs is a big task for him.
“Thank you also to (assistant-trainer) Jacci (de Tert) who prefers to stay behind the scenes and is not out to get the glory.”
It was the well-supported Pattaya (Vlad Duric) who was hailed the winner when he came off his prominent spot to collar the weakening leader Emperor Taizong (Saifudin Ismail) turning for home, but it wasn’t long before Admiral Winston put him in the shade as he came storming home with the same acceleration showed at his winning debut in April.
But all their hopes were quickly snuffed out when Rocket Star was set alight by Murray at the 300m. In one fell swoop, he drew clear to leave the rest battling for the minors in his wake.
Admiral Winston was clearly the second best with the third horse home, Strong N Powerful (Wong Chin Chuen) another 3 ¼ lengths away. The winning time was 1min 4.95secs for the 1100m on the Polytrack, only 0.86 second outside Skywalk’s recent record.
With that first win and his previous second place, Rocket Star has already collected close to $55,000 in stakes earnings for Rodolfo Mendoza.