Geaux Rocket Ride Scores Easy Affirmed Win In Prep For Haskell by Mike Willman/Santa Anita|06.04.2023|9:13pm Candy Ride colt Geaux Rocket Ride and Ramon Vazquez win the Affirmed Forced to miss the Santa Anita Derby (G1) due to illness, Pin Oak Stud's Geaux Rocket Ride came back running in Sunday's $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita as he stalked a face pace and accelerated to a 1¾-length win, getting 1 1/16 miles under Ramon Vazquez in 1:43.75. The victory prompted Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella to say he'd point to the $1-million Haskell Invitational (G1) July 22 at Monmouth Park for his next engagement. Off at 1-2 in a field of five sophomores, Geaux Rocket Ride was a reserved third off pacesetters Del Mar Jerry and Hard to Figure as they slugged it out through fast fractions to the quarter pole. At that point, Vazquez tipped three-deep and assumed complete command as Mr. Fisk rallied from well back to complete the exacta. A 5¾-length first-out maiden winner going six furlongs Jan. 29 at Santa Anita, Geaux Rocket Ride was most recently a solid second to eventual Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move going 1 1/16 miles in the San Felipe (G2) on March 4. He returned $3 for Sunday's winning effort. “He's just a classy little dude,” said an elated Mandella, who took Saturday's Summertime Oaks (G2) with Window Shopping. “We will probably look into the Haskell (at 1 1/16 miles). We are going to enjoy this one today, but that will be the one we look to.” Geaux Rocket Ride, a Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride out of the Uncle Mo mare Beyond Grace, got his first stakes win and his second win from three career starts. With the winner's share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $180,200. He was bred by OXO Equine LLC. Pin Oak Stud owner James Bernhard purchased Geaux Rocket Ride for $350,000 at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling sale, where bay colt was offered in the Taylor Made Sales Agency consignment. “He is a completely good horse,” said Vazquez, who rode Geaux Rocket for the first time and notched a riding double on the day. “Today, it was my first time on him and he showed me what a good horse he is. I got a very good trip and I got in a position where I was really comfortable and when I asked him, he responded very well. He is a really good horse.” Although he couldn't go with the winner around the far turn, Mr Fisk put in a solid bid for second money under Juan Hernandez and finished a half-dozen lengths in front of Hard to Figure. Ridden by Tiago Pereira, Hard to Figure finished 2¾ lengths in front of longshot 22-1 Ze'bul, who stumbled leaving the gate and was last to deep stretch. Fractions on the race were :23.27, :46.11, 1:10.29, and 1:36.74.