09/20/2009 11:00PM

Rocket Legs finds likely spot at Kentucky Downs


Rocket Legs was just one in a crowd in his lone appearance this summer at Saratoga, finishing sixth of nine in a second-level allowance on Aug. 15. But as with so many horses exiting that ultra-tough meet, a mere change of scenery could transform him into a standout.

Indeed, by making his next start Monday at turf-only Kentucky Downs, Rocket Legs appears to have such a big edge in class that he is the even-money morning-line favorite among a field of six entered in the day's richest race, a $29,000 allowance that combines a second-level restriction with a $45,000 claiming option.

Rocket Legs, a 5-year-old Dynaformer horse bred and owned by Alex Campbell Jr., was good enough to run second in the Grade 2 San Marcos at Santa Anita in early 2008, although he has mostly struggled since then. He was a solid second in an upper-level claiming route two starts back on the Churchill Downs turf, and after the so-so effort at Saratoga, Michael McCarthy expects the horse to prove superior Monday when stretching out to the once-around Kentucky Downs distance of 1 5/16 miles.

"He can be a little tricky, a little peculiar to train," said McCarthy, the Kentucky-based assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "He's mostly been with my string here and in California for more than two years now, and he actually broke his maiden at Kentucky Downs" on Sept. 22, 2007. "On his best day, I'd have to think his class would get him there in a race like this."

Rocket Legs, with Orlando Mojica to ride, will break from post 1 in the third of nine races. Harlan Street, with Calvin Borel aboard from post 4, looks like his strongest opponent.

Later on the card, the secondary feature pits a deeper cast in a $27,000, first-level allowance (race 8). A full field of 12 fillies and mares was entered in the one-mile race, with Excelente meriting the favorite's role off her respectable showings in four stakes this year.

The Monday card starts at 1:30 p.m. Central, with races spaced precisely 30 minutes apart.

Kentucky Downs, located near Franklin, Ky., will host two more days of live racing, sharing a 16-race card Saturday with Turfway Park, then ending its abbreviated meet with another nine-race stand-alone program next Monday, Sept. 28.