Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Rocket Can blasted into the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture by capturing his stakes debut in Saturday’s $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Striking the front on the far turn and holding off unheralded stablemate Shadow Dragon, the gray topped an exacta for trainer Bill Mott.

Rocket Can has been on the upswing ever since stretching out to two turns on the “Stars of Tomorrow” cards at Churchill Downs. The well-bred son of Into Mischief broke his maiden on Oct. 30 and finished a strong second in a Nov. 26 allowance, both at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Holy Bull.
Drawn on the far outside post 8 on Saturday, Rocket Can had to endure a wide trip throughout. But jockey Junior Alvarado had the 2.60-1 chance within close range of the early leaders. 
Up front, the newly-blinkered Mr Bob was stalked by Legacy Isle and West Coast Cowboy. The 6-5 favorite, Cyclone Mischief, drafted in the pocket behind them and never picked up from there.
As Legacy Isle accosted Mr Bob rounding the far turn, Rocket Can was also launching his bid, and his momentum carried him to the lead swinging for home. Shadow Dragon, a 34-1 shot who had dropped back to last early, fired into contention and tried to catch his better-fancied stablemate. 
Rocket Can kept on too well, though, and crossed the wire with three-quarters of a length to spare. By completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.97, he garnered 20 Derby points.
Shadow Dragon took home eight points for his commendable runner-up effort. West Coast Cowboy boxed on for third, another 2 1/4 lengths back, and received six points. Legacy Isle faded to fourth (four points), followed by fifth-placer Il Miracolo (two points), Lord Miles, Cyclone Mischief, and Mr Bob.
Rocket Can’s scorecard stands at 5-2-1-0, $249,738. His first two outings came over the summer at Saratoga, where he was unplaced in seven-furlong maidens. Rocket Can was a creditable fifth in his premiere to Instant Coffee, the future Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and Lecomte (G3) hero. Next time, Rocket Can regressed to a disappointing seventh behind Disarm. He turned the corner last fall at Churchill and continued his ascent here.  
Rocket Can was bred by Woodford Thoroughbreds in Kentucky. His dam, Tension, is a daughter of Tapit and multiple Grade 1 winner Tough Tiz’s Sis.
Leading sire Into Mischief was capping a Road to the Kentucky Derby double in the Holy Bull. Earlier at Santa Anita, his son Newgate broke through with his first stakes win in the $196,000 Robert B. Lewis (G3). 
The even-money favorite wore down Hard to Figure late, with Worcester a one-paced third and pacesetter Arabian Lion retreating to last of the quartet. All four horses are trained by Bob Baffert, who is suspended by Churchill Downs Inc., and therefore ineligible for points.
Ridden by the legendary international jockey Frankie Dettori, Newgate settled at the rear of the small field before staying on to prevail by a neck. He negotiated 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 to improve his resume to 6-2-2-0, $241,975, for his ownership group led by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables.
Newgate has been competing in graded stakes since his sharp debut win at Del Mar last summer. Fourth in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and fifth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), he was second in the Bob Hope (G3) and a near-miss runner-up in the Sham (G3).