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Breeders' Cup: Trainers have faith in Juvenile Fillies longshots Miss Netta, Rocket Twentyone
By Brad Free
The unbeaten Juvenile Fillies favorites My Miss Aurelia and Grace Hall are established, professional Grade 1 winners who are training well.
Others are longshots, with work to do.
Miss Netta has starting-gate issues that became evident when she missed the break and finished nine lengths behind My Miss Aurelia in the Grade 1 Frizette.
Rocket Twentyone will try to win the first two-turn race of her career while starting for the first time in 55 days.
The trainers of both fillies have faith. Kiaran McLaughlin said Miss Netta “definitely has talent, and that’s something you cannot teach.”
Tom Howard does not mind the role of outsider for Rocket Twentyone.
“Being a favorite, it’s not something I am used to anyway,” he said.
Miss Netta and Rocket Twentyone both fired first out – Miss Netta at Saratoga, Rocket Twentyone at Prairie Meadows. Yet a horse’s second start often is revealing, and that is where both the fillies showed chinks.
Miss Netta, before joining McLaughlin, trained in Florida with Randy Bradshaw. He warned McLaughlin about her idiosyncrasies.
“He said she was tricky at the gate,” McLaughlin said. “So we took her to the gate, schooled her, no problems.”
Miss Netta broke like a shot first out, and wired the field. It was a different story in the Frizette.
“She just kind of walked out of the gate, and then took a left-hand turn,” McLaughlin said. “The dirt hit her in the face, and she threw her head.”
Hopelessly left while the winner raced gate to wire, Miss Netta made late headway to finish third. Since then, McLaughlin said “we have continued to school her, and galloped her behind horses to get used to the dirt. Hopefully it all goes well.”
Rajiv Maragh will retain the mount on Miss Netta, a $260,000 yearling whose sire ran his best races at Churchill Downs – Street Sense won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2007 Kentucky Derby under the twin spires. Miss Netta is owned by Cheyenne Stables.
Rocket Twentyone, by Indian Charlie, was purchased for $300,000 by owner Frank Fletcher at a Florida 2-year-olds sale and trained with Howard all summer at Arlington. She shipped to Prairie Meadows for her debut, and won by more than six lengths.
It got tougher Sept. 10 in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie. Rocket Twentyone started at 16-1. Howard was not surprised at the price.
“They didn’t know us, and they didn’t know the filly,” he said. “I’ve never had anything like her, and that didn’t stop Mr. Fletcher from betting her.”
Rocket Twentyone gutted it out and won by a half-length while struggling at the finish of the one-mile Polytrack race.
The original plan was to run back Oct. 7 in the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland. Howard reconsidered and opted to train Rocket Twentyone into the Breeders’ Cup.
“When we saw we would get in, we said, hell, it makes no sense beating her up,” he sad. “It gives me time to get some miles in her, get her legged up.
Rocket Twentyone got familiar with Churchill Downs on Oct. 14, working a half-mile in the mud in 51.60 seconds under Calvin Borel. Regular rider Eusebio Razo retains the mount for the Breeders’ Cup.
While the longshot candidates try to catch up, the favorites are doing well. My Miss Aurelia had her first Churchill Downs workout Oct. 17, five furlongs in 1:02 breezing for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Grace Hall, the Grade 1 Spinaway winner and facile winner of the two-turn Blue Hen Stakes at Delaware Park on Oct. 1, worked at Delaware on Oct. 15, a bullet half-mile in 47.20 seconds, breezing.
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