02/12/2004 12:00AM

There Goes Rocket eyes third series win

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There Goes Rocket has been a dominant force in the Texas Stallion Stakes, with two wins in his two starts in the series restricted to the offspring of nominated stallions. Saturday night, he has a good chance to pick up a third Texas Stallion Stakes victory in the 1 1/16-mile division of the race at Sam Houston Race Park.

The stakes is one of two divisions for 3-year-olds on Saturday night, with the other restricted to fillies. Each race has a purse of $75,000.

There Goes Rocket, who was Texas's champion 2-year-old last year, makes his first start at 3 in the Texas Stallion Stakes. He won the one-mile division of the series in his last start, on Dec. 27, and back in June won the 5 1/2-furlong division at Lone Star Park.

Based now at Fair Grounds, There Goes Rocket was among those under consideration for that track's Grade 3, $150,000 Risen Star Stakes on Sunday.

"We nominated for it," said Sam David, who trains There Goes Rocket for Frank Fletcher Racing Operations. "We weighed all our options and decided to go back to Houston."

There Goes Rocket has made his last two starts at Sam Houston, winning the Texas Stallion and finishing second by a neck in the six-furlong, $50,000 Groovy on Nov. 15.

"He's coming into this good," said David. "I expect him to run big."

E.J. Perrodin has the mount Saturday.

The chief threat to There Goes Rocket will be Roundabout Jones, a two-time stakes winner who finished second last out in the mile division of the Texas Stallion Stakes. Jeremy Beasley has the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen.

In the fillies division, Native Annie is out to remain undefeated in three starts. She won her maiden going wire to wire at Sam Houston on Nov. 19, then rallied from off the pace after a bad start to win a one-mile division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Sam Houston on Dec. 27.

Since that race, Native Annie has fired consecutive bullet workouts at Sam Houston. Robby Albarado has the mount for Stonerside Stable and trainer Michael Stidham.