Johny Rock is still learning on the job, but he is getting good experience when it comes to winning.
A 2-year-old colt pacer, Johny Rock has won four of six starts and finished second twice for trainer John Butenschoen and owners William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen and Eugene Schick. He has earned $119,691.
Johny Rock has posted three victories in a row, most recently a 1 1/2-length triumph in 1:51.1 in the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes championship at Meadowlands Racetrack. His next start is in Saturday's eliminations for the Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack.
"He doesn't really know what he's doing,” Butenschoen said. "He's just a big, dumb colt. He just goes out there la-de-da and goes about his business. You ask him to go, and he goes. Maybe he's just dumb enough to be a good one.
"For a big horse, he's real athletic. That's what I love about him. He gets over the ground easy and he loves doing it. The last one I had like him was (stakes-winner) The Quiet Mon and he wasn't as nearly a sound horse. This is a sound horse right now.”
Johny Rock is a son of Rocknroll Hanover and the first foal of the mare Soggy Britches, who earned $199,273 and had a mark of 1:50.2. Sold under the name Rockin Britches, he was purchased for $60,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale.
"He was a very striking horse at the sale,” Butenschoen said. "He fell in the range of what we were looking to pay for him and we got lucky and bought him.
"Hopefully we've got the right Rocknroll (Hanover). It seems like every year there's a good Rocknroll and we hope it's our year.”
While Johny Rock is a pleasure to race, he is not a horse for the meek.
"He's all boy,” Butchenschoen said, smiling. "You watch in the winner's circle and we're in and out of there quick. He's not a kid's horse. But he's a real nice colt.”
Tim Tetrick has been Johny Rock's primary driver at the Meadowlands, but Tetrick also is the regular driver for Metro Pace contender Captaintreacherous. Butenschoen and Tetrick are Illinois natives and Tetrick picked up a big win early in his career driving Butenschoen's standout trotter Plesac to victory in the 2002 American National Stakes.
Captaintreacherous, who has won three of four races and paced the first sub-1:50 mile by a 2 year old in Meadowlands history when he won the Woodrow Wilson in 1:49.3 on Aug. 4, is trained by Illinois native Tony Alagna.
Both colts drew into the same Metro Pace elimination on Saturday, with Captaintreacherous starting from post five and Johny Rock from post seven in the seven-horse field.
If Tetrick goes with Captaintreacherous, Butenschoen plans to turn to driver Andy Miller, who also hails from the Land of Lincoln and drove Johny Rock to a NJSS win two starts back on Aug. 10.
"We'll try to keep it in the Midwest and see what happens,” Butenschoen said, laughing. "It could be a lot of fun.”
Butenschoen plans to limit Johny Rock's schedule to 10 races. If he reaches the Metro Pace final, the colt could make two more starts at Lexington's Red Mile before being shut down for the year.
"That's enough for him,” the trainer said. "It's been a long time since I've had a horse like him. He's been a good horse from day one. He's (stakes) eligible to everything next year, so hopefully he'll keep going forward. This will be a test, but every time we've asked him to step up, he's stepped up.” (HRC)