01/12/2012 3:32PM

Now I Know, Rocket Twentyone head strong Dixie Belle

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Now I Know, with Perry Compton riding, wins the Delta Princess.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Now I Know will put her 5-for-5 record up against Breeders’ Cup alum Rocket Twentyone on Saturday in a righteous renewal of the $50,000 Dixie Belle at Oaklawn Park. Both horses are Grade 3 winners, and the strength of their form makes the six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies a real first look at potential starters for the meet’s biggest prize for the division, the $300,000 Fantasy.

“I think it’s a very good race for this time of the year,” Tom Howard, the trainer of Rocket Twentyone, said of the Dixie Belle.

Now I Know became a graded winner in her last start, when she stormed to a four-length win in the Grade 3, $500,000 Delta Downs Princess on Nov. 19. The one-mile race was her first at two turns, and a rare one against open company. Now I Know had won 3 of her first 4 starts against Oklahoma-breds, including the $81,000 Oklahoma Classics Lassie at Remington Park. For the return to sprinting Saturday, she shows a pair of bullet works at Oaklawn.

“We feel good about the [cutback],” said Don Von Hemel, who co-bred, co-owns, and trains Now I Know. “We laid her off a little while after Delta, and I didn’t want to go two turns right off the bat.”

Now I Know did well over the break, said Von Hemel, whose partner in the horse is Wayne Stockseth.

“She’s filled out a little bit more,” Von Hemel said. “She’s a nice filly. She doesn’t have any problems. She does everything you ask of her, and if she continues to do that, we’re going to have a whole lot of fun.”

Von Hemel would like to see Now I Know develop into a candidate for the Grade 2 Fantasy on April 11. But he said she would go one step at a time. The upcoming preps are the $75,000 Martha Washington on Feb. 11 and the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee on March 10. The first order of business, Von Hemel said, is the Dixie Belle. Now I Know is the speed of the race and she will break from post 4 in the field of five, under regular rider Perry Compton.

Howard will also go one step at a time with Rocket Twentyone in the hopes of landing in the Fantasy for Arkansas-based owner Frank Fletcher. The filly won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie at a mile in her second career start in September, then finished 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 4. Howard said Rocket Twentyone had some turnout time following the Breeders’ Cup. Like Now I Know, she will be cutting back in distance Saturday.

“She’s acting like she’s going to like it,” he said. “We’ll soon find out.

“Naturally I want to get her back going long, but I want to do it in due time. I think we’re headed in that direction. I’m real happy with where she is now.”

Eddie Razo has the mount from post 3.

◗ Oaklawn will offer 50-cent corned beef sandwiches and 10-cent sodas Saturday.