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Joy’s Rocket Fires Big in Impressive $100,000 Skipat Victory
Rosario, Asmussen Team Up for Second Win on Preakness Card
LAUREL, MD – Team Hanley and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Joy’s Rocket, winless in her previous eight starts that included four second-place finishes, looked like a winner all the way around historic Pimlico Race Course Saturday during a dominant 4 ¼-length triumph in Saturday’s $100,000 Skipat.
The 29th running of the Skipat for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting six furlongs was the third of 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.75 million in purses on a blockbuster 14-race program headlined by the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
It was the second stakes victory of the day for jockey Joel Rosario and Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who combined to take the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) with Jaxon Traveler. They will team up again later Saturday aboard program favorite Epicenter in the Preakness.
Joy’s Rocket broke running and was quickly joined up front by 2-1 favorite Cilla as they went a quarter-mile in 22.57 seconds with Time Limit, a stakes winner in Maryland to open her 2022 season, positioned to the outside in third. Time Limit moved up to second after a half in 45.06 and loomed a threat approaching the stretch, when Joy’s Rocket began to steadily edge clear under a hand ride to win in 1:09.76 over a fast main track.
Fillie d’Esprit made a belated move on the outside to get up for second, 1 ½ lengths ahead of Time Limit. Cinnabunny, Cilla, Oxana, Glory Dia and Street Lute, an eight-time stakes winner making her second start of the year, completed the order of finish.
Joy’s Rocket had not won since taking the Letellier Memorial in December 2020 at Fair Grounds for her third stakes victory in five starts. The 4-year-old filly was 0-for-5 in 2021 with three seconds, including a head loss in the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland. She was runner-up to Southern Grayce in an April 30 optional claimer at Oaklawn Park.
With the outcome, Asmussen now has five wins, five seconds, one third and one fourth in his last 12 starters at Pimlico, according to Equibase statistics.
Bred in Connecticut, Skipat won 26 of 45 career races over six years, earning $614,215 between 1977 and 1981. Two of her wins came in the Barbara Fritchie (G3), in 1979 and 1981, the latter coming the year after she had been retired and bred and brought back to the races.
$100,000 Skipat Quotes
Winning trainer Steve Asmussen, Joy’s Rocket: “I was glad to see her get away from the gate so clean today. She's run gamely all year. We went back to the pace she showed when she was two and was winning races. She's competing well. But this put her back in the winner's circle. And I thought the break and the first quarter of a mile was the key. When she was away well, I thought it gave her a very good chance to win and she proved best.”
Winning jockey Joel Rosario, Joy’s Rocket: “She came out of there really well and she showed me some speed. That’s what I thought before the race. She showed tremendous speed and was able to keep going with it. She ran a big race today.”