QUALITY ROCKET DEFENDS HIS CHAMPIONSHIP SUCCESSFULLY IN $70,000 RED EARTH STAKES ON THE GRASS
Quality Rocket won his second consecutive $70,000 Red Earth Stakes at 7-1/2 furlongs on the turf Friday night at Remington Park. If not for a late runner two years ago, it would have been his third consecutive win in this race.
In that 2019 race, a huge longshot, Timely Reply chased down Quality Rocket in the stretch after the near three-time winner had a two-length lead coming for home in that race. Quality Rocket lost by a neck in that one, but has been perfect in the Red Earth Stakes since. The 7-year-old gelding by Backstabber, out of the King of Scat mare Lady Cambridge, won last year by 4-1/4 lengths with Garrett Steinberg up.
Quality Rocket passed the 9-5 wagering favorite Quarky on Friday night in the stretch to get up by one length with Ramon Vazquez in the saddle for trainer Boyd “Jo-be” Caster.
“He loves to be a racehorse,” said Caster. “and he gets better with age. He’s like, ‘Line ‘em up and let me run.’”
Run, he did. He covered the distance in 1:28.45 over the firm turf, faster than his 1:28.64 that he won in last year. Quality Rocket actually ran even faster when he finished second by a neck. The winner two years ago, Timely Reply, finished in 1:27.69. It was Caster’s second win in this stakes race and Vazquez’s first. Last year, Quality Rocket won for owner Gerald Ball, who passed away between that race and this one. The gelding is now in the hands of Jeremy D. Ball, Gerald’s son, of Shawnee, Okla.
“Yeah, we lost Gerald last year; I’m sure he was watching tonight,” Caster said. “Quality Rocket sure does like the grass. His daddy (Backstabber) did, too. He passed it on to his son.”
Quality Rocket, bred in Oklahoma by Gerald and Oteka Ann Ball, earned $42,000 for the victory and improved his lifetime record to 35 starts, 11 wins, nine seconds and one third for $409,006 in his bankroll. His turf record is seven starts, three wins and one second for $181,280. This horse has been versatile for Caster as well. He has won back to back $45,000 Route 66 stakes at Fair Meadows in Tulsa, Okla., the past two years, at 6-1/2 furlongs on the dirt of a half-mile bullring there. In this year’s Route 66 he finished 4-1/2 lengths ahead of Welder, a sprinting Oklahoma-bred millionaire.
Quality Rocket followed up his win in the Red Earth here last year with a victory in the $130,000 Oklahoma Classics Turf, stretching out to 1-1/16th miles on the grass. Caster said he would likely go in that race again this year, scheduled for Oct. 15.
“Jo-Be just told me not to fight him and let him get comfortable,” said Vazquez. “I had my doubts, yes, about getting past that 2-horse. I was just waiting for my moment and my horse didn’t quit.”
Quality Rocket (5-2) returned $7.20 to win, $3.80 to place and $3.20 to show. Tommyhawk was third at 15-1 odds, 1-3/4 lengths behind the runner-up. The early fractions in the race were :23.22 for the first quarter-mile, :46.62 for the half-mile, and 1:10.48 for three-quarters of a mile.
Racing continues this week with a Saturday-Sunday schedule. It’s the only Sunday race day of the meet, serving as Oklahoma Derby Day. Post time is 3 p.m. on Sept. 26, while Saturday night begins at 7:07 p.m.
Tracked by more than 167,000 fans on Facebook and 10,400 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $272 Million to the State of Oklahoma general education fund since the opening of the casino in 2005. Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District, Remington Park is the home of the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby and Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks on Sunday, Sept. 26. Simulcast horse racing featured daily, the casino is always open! Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.