Joy's Rocket Fires in Skipat Stakes


Photo: Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.
Joy's Rocket wins the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico Race Course

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 May 21 during a dominant 4 1/4-length triumph in the six-furlong $100,000 Skipat Stakes

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 with Maryland stakes winner Time Limit  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.

"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 2 and was winning races," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "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."

Fillie d'Esprit made a belated move on the outside to get up for second, 1 1/2 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.

"She came out of there really well and she showed me some speed," winning jockey Joel Rosario said. "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."

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Joy's Rocket had not won since taking the 2020 Letellier Memorial Stakes in December at Fair Grounds for her third stakes victory in five starts. With the outcome, Asmussen now has five wins, seven seconds, and three third from 19 starts at Pimlico in 2021-22, according to Equibase statistics.