With a leisurely 1:54.4, 1 ¼ length win in an April 8 Meadowlands qualifier, Rock N Roll Heaven showed trainer Bruce Saunders that he’s ready to make the step up to a very tough sophomore pacing class.
Clearing to the lead after a mild :30 quarter, driver Daniel Dube let the Rocknroll Hanover colt out several notches, wheeling by the three-quarters in 1:26.4 and opened up eight lengths in the stretch, then eased up for the win.
“There were some decent horses in with us,” said Saunders. “We were a little bit concerned about how much we wanted to go today. Dan was pretty much on the numbers we wanted to be--between 1:54 and 1:55. He certainly wasn’t urged and was well within himself.”
Saunders said that Rock N Roll Heaven, who paced in 1:50.2 as a freshman, while compiling a 9-4-4-1 slate and earnings of $592,626, is right on track.
“He’ll go again next week,” he said. “But that’s where his natural progress should have been. I’ve been in 1:58 and 1:56. The weather was pretty warm and it was a great day for horses to go fast.”
Rock N Roll Heaven enjoyed an uneventful winter, reported Saunders.
“He came through the winter very well. He was with us most of the winter at Magical Acres up until about Thanksgiving. Then he was turned out for about three weeks. The winter, with the exception of a couple of bad weather days, was without incident.”
Owned by Frank Bellino, Rock n Roll Heaven fared very well at two while racing colts like Sportswriter, All Speed Hanover and One More Laugh. Saunders knows they’ll be ready to rock and roll this season, too.
“It’s a very deep class, the deepest I’ve ever seen,” he noted. “But once he got his legs underneath him, in his last four starts when he lost he was really kind of out of position, not to demean any of those other horses. In the races he didn’t win – in the Metro Sportswriter got away loose on the lead and in the Governor’s Cup when One More Laugh went just an unbelievably vicious mile first-over in 1:49.3 with a back half in :53.3, and were trapped in the two hole, got shuffled back, and had to dive into the passing lane and catch up. Dan was convinced if we weren’t trapped in it would have been a different race.”
Rock N Roll Heaven closed his season by pacing in a career-best 1:50.2 while winning a Bluegrass division at The Red Mile on October 3. “I was never disappointed in any race he went,’ said Saunders.
Saunders thinks his talented colt will be able to turn the tables on some of the colts that bested him last year.
“Is he capable of beating these horses? Yes. Do I think anyone horse will dominate, I don’t know. If a horse wins 50 or 60 percent of his races against this bunch, he’ll be a very special horse. A lot of them are capable of pacing in 1:50 every time they go to post. I hope he’s one of them.”