Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc.’s multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Frank’s Rockette will get the chance to rebound from a disappointing Breeders’ Cup and end the year on a positive note in Saturday’s $125,000 Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The six-furlong Sugar Swirl for fillies and mares 3 and up is the first of six stakes, five graded, worth $850,000 in purses on an 11-race New Year’s Eve program. First race post time is 12:10 p.m.
Frank’s Rockette, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, ran 11th behind Goodnight Olive in the seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 4 at Keeneland, having gone into the race off a six-length romp in the Aug. 26 Pink Ribbon, also sprinting seven furlongs, at Charles Town.
The Sugar Swirl will be only the fifth start this year for the 5-year-old Into Mischief mare, who ran second in the April 2 Carousel, May 14 Vagrancy (G3) and July 27 Honorable Miss (G2) – beaten a length and a nose combined.
“Billy Mott just takes it week by week. She’s done great since the Breeders’ Cup, really good,” Fletcher’s racing manager Kathy Howard said. “My hat’s off to her. She just always tries. The Breeders’ Cup was a throwout race, but she always tries 100 percent.
“I think she runs best, and Billy’s been great managing her, placing her every six to eight weeks,” she added. “She runs so hard and she gives her whole heart, she rewards us deeply and we want to reward her. She’s made over a million dollars and she’s going to be 6, so how can you ask anything more?”
Out of the Indian Charlie mare Rocket Twentyone, a Grade 3 winner who was trained by Howard’s late husband, W.T. Howard, Frank’s Rockette has won seven stakes including the Victory Ride (G3), Prioress (G2) and Gallant Bloom (G2) in succession in the summer and fall of 2020. She also placed in 12 other stakes, seven graded, including last year’s Sugar Swirl as the favorite, coming up a length short of Center Aisle, who she beat in the Prioress.
Frank’s Rockette has been third or better in 21 of 24 starts, nine of them wins, with $1,147,308 in purse earnings. She returns to a distance where she has five wins, five seconds and two thirds from 12 tries, and will have Luis Saez aboard from Post 4 in a field of six.
“She’s very special. My late husband trained the dam, and it’s just been a touching story,” Howard said. “She’s doing really good, from all accounts I’ve heard. We’re looking forward to it.”
Holly Hill Stables’ Edie Meeny Miny Mo will be chasing her first graded triumph in the Sugar Swirl, having won the six-furlong Regret in front-running fashion July 2 at Monmouth Park. Pulled up after a half-mile in the Aug. 16 Seeking the Pearl at Colonial Downs, she returned to run second as the favorite behind local multiple stakes winner Dontletsweetfoolya in an open six-furlong allowance Oct. 30 at Laurel Park.
“The Virginia race was unfortunate. Some circumstantial things happened that caused us a problem there, but I think we’ve got everything under control,” trainer Michelle Hemingway said. “She should have won that race in Maryland. There were just a few errors that cost her. I think she’s coming into this race better than I’ve ever had her.”
By Upstart, who won the Holy Bull (G2) and was second in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) in 2015 at Gulfstream, Edie Meeny Miny Mo has earned all four of her wins in nine career starts going six furlongs. She stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and was second in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) last summer.
“She’s definitely a filly that wants to give you everything she’s got. When you put an ‘X’ through everything that happened in that Virginia race, you know that basically counts for nothing. She wants to do everything she can to please you and she’ll do whatever it takes,” Hemingway said.
“I think she’s actually really rateable filly. I don’t think she has to be on the lead at all. If you go back to when we won the Regret and watch that race, Club Car had her at the quarter pole. She just fought back and managed to nudge Club Car out that last jump,” she added. “She never quits. I don’t think she has to be on the front end. If it goes that way and she can get that lead easily, that’s fine. I think knowing Gulfstream and the surface it’s going to be speed-favoring, and if she can sit just off them she’s more competitive when she can look a horse in the eye.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. gets the call on Edie Meeny Miny Mo for the first time from Post 5.
“I think the surface will suit her great,” Hemingway said. “It’s a very bouncy surface, it’s not too deep, and I think she’ll really like that. Monmouth she loved, which at the beginning of the meet was very similar. It wasn’t a real deep track, faster in the afternoon and slower in the morning. I think it’s going to be similar to that versus Laurel, which is a little bit of a deeper surface. I think that’s kind of what caught her that last little bit coming back off the layoff.
“We’re excited,” she added. “We’re pleased that Irad’s going to ride her, so we’ll see what happens.”
Also entered are Coppelia and Joyful Cadence, respectively 1-2 in the six-furlong Dream Supreme Nov. 13 at Churchill Downs, separated by a length; stakes-placed My Destiny, who ran her win streak to three with a four-length triumph Dec. 8 at Gulfstream sprinting six furlongs; and Restofthestory, exiting a runner-up finish in the seven-furlong FSS City of Ocala Dec. 10 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Trained by late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, Sugar Swirl was an Ontario-bred daughter of 1997 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Touch Gold that won 10 of 23 lifetime starts and seven stakes, including a sweep of the First Lady (G3), Hurricane Bertie (G3) and Shirley Jones (G2) handicaps in 2008 at Gulfstream.