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Roll in Messenger, Rock in Lady Maud

November 12, 2011
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Roll With Joe, driven by Ron Pierce, surprised no one Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $401,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers. In his retirement soiree, "Joe" rolled, romping in the 56th edition of the final jewel of the Pacing Triple Crown by eight widening lengths in 1:52.4.
 
Leaving from post position three as the minimum-allowed-by-law 1-20 favorite, harness racing’s richest horse of 2011 was in play early. However, he was stuffed into a seat behind New York Sire Stakes champ Mojo Terror (Brian Sears), who found a :27.4 opening quarter mile. Mojo Terror--one of two geldings in the six-horse field--rated a 29-second next interval (:56.4 half), while Keystone Velocity (Dan Dube) was taking out of fifth. 
 
In the third turn, it was time for "Joe" to go. Pierce vacated the pocket, soon after ending what suspense this race may have offered. Roll With Joe had a pair of lengths at the 1:23.4 three-quarters, then opened to 4 1/2 lengths turning for home.
 
He was wrapped up from there, wrapping up in career at the same time. Sea Venture (Jason Bartlett)--the other gelding--won the scramble for second, with Sir Ziggy's  Z Tam (Pat Lachance) third. Keystone Velocity, Mojo Terror and a trailing-throughout Rollwithitharry (Jim Morrill Jr.) completed the order of cashers/finishers. 
 
Roll With Joe, a son of 1994 Harness of the Year (and Messenger winner) Cam's Card Shark, ended his season with six wins, four seconds a pair of thirds in 14 starts. Saturday night's stakes is added to the Meadowlands Pace and Battle of the Brandywine on the racing resume. The $200,500 payday increased his seasonal account to $1,649,725 for co-owners (breeder) Winbak Farm, Blue Chip Bloodstock, Stephen Demeter and Not To Worry Stable.
 
Where to begin post-race? 
 
"He's as good and as professional as any horse I’ve driven," Pierce--who won this race for a third time--said. "I let him settle early, but once the horse (Keystone Velocity) came to the outside, it was time to move.
 
"I've never sat behind him when he wasn't on his game, and that's a credit to (trainer) Ed (Hart). I hope he has another one like him for me."
 
"I can't say enough about this colt," Hart said. "He's been a once-in-a-lifetime horse for me. I always knew he had the talent, but to go in all the major races and race the way he has, it's been just unbelievable"
 
Now, it's Roll With Joe, Phase 2, as he's off to Blue Chip Farms in Wallkill, N.Y. There, he gets to replace his full brother, Bettor's Delight, who's being moved to Ontario.
 
"We couldn't have picked a better way for 'Joe' to end his racing career, Tom Grossman, Blue Chip's owner, said. "We wanted to bring him here (Yonkers) to showcase him in New York in such a prestigious race. I just came back from Harrisburg with about a half-million dollars in mares for him."
 
Rocklamation (Brian Sears) made use of the passing lane and then some Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's $194,890 Lady Maud Pace for 3-year-old fillies.
 
The non-betting, four-horse foray, held prior to the $401,000 Messenger Stakes-led wagering card, saw the ladies away in post position order, as in Krispy Apple (Jim Morrill Jr.), Rocklamation, City Delight (Jason Bartlett) and New Album (Ron Pierce). Krispy Apple was left to her devices through early intervals of :27.3 and :56.1.
 
Back marker New Album moved toward the 1:24.4 three-quarters, though Krispy Apple maintained a length-and-a-half lead turning for home. However, she then violated the "shortest distance between two points" theory, bearing out badly through the lane and eventually breaking near the wire. That left all the glory for Rocklamation, who won by a pair of widening lengths in 1:53...a new record for a Yonkers' edition of the Lady Maud (stakes record of 1:52.4 was set by Shoobeedoobeedoo at The Meadows in 2003).
 
New Album was able to grab second over the self-inflicted grief of Krispy Apple, with City Delight fourth.
 
"(Rocklamation) has been getter better as the season has gone along," Sears said. "She was very good in (winning) her (Breeders Crown) elimination race, but unfortunately, had no chance in the final. Tonight, the way the draw played out, I knew I'd be chasing Jimmy's filly (Krsipy Apple), and she's had issues with running out. It worked out very well for us."
 
Rocklamation, a daughter of Rocknroll Hanover owned by Stable 45 and trained by Ron Burke, is now five-for-20 this season with earnings in excess of $330,000. (Yonkers)
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