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Big Finish For Boston Red Rocks?

Published: November 21, 2016 9:15 am ET

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While Betting Line, Control The Moment and Racing Hill have been the talk of the harness racing world all season, there was a colt, the defending Dan Patch Award champion in fact, that faded from view and his name was rarely mentioned in discussions of the three-year-old pacing division.

That colt, a son of Rocknroll Hanover - McGibson, is Boston Red Rocks and after a resounding victory in the $160,200 Matron Stake on Nov. 10 at Dover Downs, he has served notice he has returned to centre stage.

Conditioned by Steve Elliott and owned by Rick Berks and Peter Blood, Boston Red Rocks was provided with yet another opportunity to demonstrate his prowess when his connections determined he would be supplemented for the sum of $25,000 to the $300,000 (est.) Hap Hansen Progress Pace to be contested on Monday (Nov. 28) at Dover Downs.

The colt, fresh off a lifetime best of 1:49.3 in the Matron, thanks to a first-over journey that left Western Fame, Check Six and Racing Hill in his wake, will seek to show he has indeed returned when he begins pacing from post position five on Monday (Nov. 21) in one of two $35,000 eliminations for the Progress Pace. He retains the services of regular pilot Tim Tetrick and is the 2-1 morning line favourite in the field of six.

He will take on Manhattan Beach (post one, Matt Kakaley, 7-2), Katies Rocker (post two, David Miller, 4-1) and Western Fame (post six, Mark MacDonald, 3-1), not only for a spot on the gate for the lucrative final, but illustrate he is a horse to be reckoned with.

After all, he was the top-ranked three-year-old pacing colt and gelding heading into the 2016 season according to U.S. preliminary rankings, an honour or belief that is certainly never simple to live up to.

“There are always expectations after a horse is a champion and wins the Breeders Crown,” Elliott said. “Anyone in this business knows they are not always warranted. Just to get a baby to the races is a game of chance. You have to keep them happy and hope they don’t break something. Not all horses come back the same the following year and you have to have a little luck.

Boston Red Rocks winning the 2015 Breeders Crown for Two-Year-Old Colt Pacers

“This horse has not had that this year, but he is a nice horse and just like last year, he came on at this time of the season. He hasn’t had a bad year. He’s made almost $400,000 and there were some races he was in the barn when the other horses were out there. I don’t think you can ever say his year was disappointing. It is just how things worked out for him.”

Elliott is referring to a record of 17-5-4-3 and the $403,145 Boston Red Rocks has banked as a sophomore.

The colt appeared to be poised for a campaign that his connections could only dream of, but after being interfered with, as well as being carried out nine-wide, in a $25,000 leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at the Meadowlands on May 28, Boston Red Rocks may not quite have been on top of his game. He, however, made a spectacular recovery, not only because he managed to stay on his feet, but paced a blistering :25.2 final quarter-mile to just miss the victory and finish a close third.

It was only his second start of the year and all associated with him were just pleased he returned to the barn sound.

After that eventful journey, Boston Red Rocks was second by a neck in the $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final, fourth in the $1,000,000 North America Cup final, third in the $500,000 Hempt final, seventh in the $732,050 Meadowlands Pace final and fourth at odds of 43-1 behind Betting Line, Racing Hill and Control The Moment in the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine.

While not taking on those colleagues, the colt continued his year with a second in the $150,000 Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic, a win in a non-winners event, another win in the $26,000 New Jersey Futurity, a seventh in his Breeders Crown elimination and a very nice second against older rivals in another non-winners race prior to his effort at Dover Downs.

“We just did not get the trip in the Breeders Crown elimination we had hoped for,” Berks said. “But that is horse racing. With how the race set up he would have had to pace in :25 for his quarter and around :53 or :52 for the half. You can’t expect a horse to do that. It just wasn’t fair to him.”

Whether Boston Red Rocks captures the hardware in the Progress Pace and rewards his connections for the supplemental gamble they placed upon him is not the most important thing for his crew of humans.

“I have known Pete for 30 years,” Berks said. “It has always been our friendship first and foremost and then the horses come second. This is not my primary business, but a hobby for me. I’ve been around the horses for all that time and I really enjoy them. There are a lot of highs and lows in this sport. I really enjoy those highs and don’t concentrate on the lows.

“Steve does a great job with this horse like he does with all the horses. If he says go ahead and supplement him, then that is what we will do. He is a very nice horse and he deserves the chance.

“He has also brought me some of those highs. It means so much more to have this kind of horse with someone like Pete.”

Blood is also thankful and appreciative for Berks’ support. If he ever thought his colleague would not be on board, the discussion to supplement Boston Red Rocks would never have transpired.

“Rick was all for it,” he said. “Right after Boston Red Rocks won the Matron he was in on paying the fee as long as the horse was doing well. He’s a great owner and never minds placing a wager when it comes to the horses.”

Elliott has another approach that more than likely is one of the reasons he has enjoyed such success in the industry.

“I think the horses are the ones that should do the talking,” he said. “Maybe they can’t speak, but they can sure show you. Our job is to just stay out of their way and not screw them up. The horse paid his way into the Progress Pace off that win (the Matron). He’s showing you something so let him talk.”

Below are the fields for the $35,000 Hap Hansen Progress Pace eliminations.

First Elimination
1. JK Will Power - Corey Callahan - David Smith - 4/1
2. Easy Lover Hanover - Doug McNair - Ben Wallace - 5/2
3. Manny - Anthony Morgan - Brewer Adams - 12/1
4. Big Top Hanover - Tim Tetrick - Daniel Renaud - 5/1
5. Lyons Snyder - David Miller - Jimmy Takter - 9/2
6. Check Six - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 2/1

Second Elimination
1. Manhattan Beach - Matt Kakaley - Scott DiDomenico - 7/2
2. Katies Rocker - David Miller - Jim Campbell - 4/1
3. Craftship - Corey Callahan - Brian Malone - 15/1
4. Stolen Glimpse - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 9/2
5. Boston Red Rocks - Tim Tetrick - Steve Elliott - 2/1
6. Western Fame - Mark MacDonald - Jimmy Takter - 3/1

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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