03/11/2004 12:00AM

There Goes Rocket jumps to Delta


There Goes Rocket, who had been pointing for the $200,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 20, will bypass that race in favor of the $50,000 Sportsman's Paradise at Delta Downs on Saturday night. A winner of $244,500, There Goes Rocket has earned the bulk of that money in restricted stakes, and his connections are concerned he might not be able to draw into the Rebel.

If that race is oversubscribed, starting preference goes to horses with the highest earnings, excluding money won in restricted races. The Rebel is expected to draw a large field because it is the first leg of a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn that would reward the winner of the Rebel, Arkansas Derby, and Kentucky Derby.

"There was some wonder whether we would get into the Rebel at all, so we started looking around for another spot," said Sam David Jr., who trains There Goes Rocket for Frank Fletcher.

The target became the Sportsman's Paradise, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds that will be run around two turns. Other contenders in the race include Korbyn Gold and Britt's Jules, as well as Early Advantage, a Triple Crown nominee who makes his first start for trainer Tom Amoss.

Amoss won the Sportsman's Paradise last year with Cat Genius.

There Goes Rocket has won two divisions of the restricted Texas Stallion Stakes, both around two turns, in his last two starts. Overall, he has won five of seven starts. E.J. Perrodin has the mount Saturday.