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Saunders gives his take on tough trip

May 03, 2010

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Rock N Roll Heaven, one of last year’s top 2-year-olds, with nearly $600,000 in earnings and a stakes win in the Bluegrass and runner up in the Metro Pace,  got a long look at this year’s competition this past weekend – from the long way around the track. Stuck on the outside throughout all fractions (:27.2, :55.1, 1:23.1, 1:50) of his Berry’s Creek elimination race at the Meadowlands on May 1, Rock N Roll Heaven nonetheless held strong to be third and advance to Saturday’s $225,000 final.
“He’s usually been the recipient of either being up on the front end when he was much the best or following and having nice trips,” said trainer Bruce Saunders. “I went back and looked and he’s never been first over. He might have been briefly and then he cleared – that (race on Saturday) was a tough trip. I was not disappointed in his performance, only disappointed in the outcome.
“The week before (April 24), his first start we put him on the front end, and I wanted to stretch him out because I knew he was going to have pace a lot more on the first and eighth of May in the Berry’s elim and final and you can’t, I don’t care how good a horse you have, you can’t qualify if you haven’t gone enough times or raced hard to be fast against good 3-year-olds that have been racing. So we put him on the front end and he won, I was very happy with his performance.
“I really didn’t want to have him on the front end this week. I was hoping to be able to race him from behind and get him qualified, but I had no idea he’d end up being first over. Danny (driver Daniel Dube) thought that if he floated out of there, he’d put a couple live horses in front of him and he did. Unfortunately the live horses lined up 1-2 and he had a couple of 70-1 and 80-1 shots sitting third and fourth, so Daniel moved, there was nobody that was upset with their position, so he would up being first over.”
Despite the trip, Rock N Roll Heaven was in fine form after the race.
“He was full of himself,” Saunders said. “He rarely gets tired, though I will say I think he learned a lot on Saturday. I think that race got his attention. He was tired when he got done racing because of the trip, plus it was about 80 degrees. I think he’ll step way up off that trip, I hope he doesn’t have to endure another one like that. The only downside to not winning of course is now we have to rely on the luck of the draw for post position. Winners select their position and I am sure those guys will be somewhere between the rail and the four hole. I’d be really happy with 3 through 6, even 7, anywhere in there." (Harness Racing Communications)
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