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Rock N Roll Heaven Hits Winning Note In Berry's Creek


Published: May 8, 2010 9:58 pm ET

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Rock N Roll Heaven brushed to command at the half and held off all challengers to win the $220,000 Berry's Creek Final on a blustery Saturday night at Meadowlands Racetrack. A pair of Graduate eliminations were also featured on the action-packed card.

The opening quarter of the Berry's Creek was a swift :26.4 as Europan Union (Andy Miller) engaged Cambassador (Ron Pierce) around the first turn and took the lead as the latter went off stride. Kyle Major (Jody Jamieson) worked to clear the front next, but driver Daniel Dube and Rock N Roll Heaven rushed headlong into the wind to take command and open up to a two-length advantage in a :55.3 half. Kyle Major took aim at the leader at the top of the stretch, but Rock N Roll Heaven pulled away and held off a late rally by Fred And Ginger (Tim Tetrick) for a 1-1/4-length tally in 1:52. Kyle Major held on for third.

Rock N Roll Heaven paid $7 to win the first major stakes event of the season for three-year-old pacers.

"When Cambassador made a break on the first turn, I was just hoping I could clear past him, but I was alright," Dube said. "The wind is so tough on the backside. The half was in :55.3 and we had to work hard to get there. After that, he just kept going and that's a sign of a good horse."

Rock N Roll Heaven, trained by Bruce Saunders, posted his second win in three starts this season. He finished third in his Berry's Creek elimination race after being caught wide the whole mile and encountering difficulties with his earplugs before the start of the race.

"We switched his head poles around tonight," Saunders noted. "He was running out a little bit going into the first turn last week, so we put a straight pole on the outside and a line pole on the inside. I think he's going to have to learn to go with two poles because he likes to run in and run out a little bit. I don't how much of how he steered tonight was attributable to the wind. It's brutal out here, as everybody can see the way the flags are blowing and horses are getting blown sideways.

"I was very impressed with the entire field last week," Saunders continued. "There were horses of quality, but I thought we had the best resume coming into the race. I thought last week he endured a tough trip, but I knew he'd bounce back off of that."

One of last year's top two-year-olds, Rock N Roll Heaven won four of nine starts and never missed the board as a freshman. Victories in the New Jersey Sire Stakes Final and Bluegrass, along with runner-up finishes in the Governor's Cup and Metro finals, propelled the colt to $614,186 in earnings for the season. Originally a $57,000 yearling purchase, owner Frank Bellino of Bronxville, New York purchased Rock N Roll Heaven for an undisclosed sum last June. The colt is by New Jersey-based sire Rocknroll Hanover and out of the stakes-winning mare Artistic Vision.

Rock N Roll Heaven is eligible to the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, June 26 and is assessed at odds of 8-1 in Trot Magazine's 2010 Spring Book. He is also eligible to $1 million Meadowlands Pace on Saturday, July 17. Rock N Roll Heaven will make his next start in the first leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 15 at the Meadowlands.

Two $50,000 eliminations for the Graduate for free for all pacers were contested earlier on the card. Won The West, the 2009 Older Pacer of the Year in the U.S., sat a second-over trip and held off last year's Berry's Creek champion Annieswesterncard (Ron Pierce) by a nose to win the first of the splits in 1:52. David Miller was in the sulky for trainer Ron Burke, who sent out a quartet of winners on the card.

"It's brutal out there," Miller said. "It's got to be gusting 40 miles per hour. I'm not surprised we got to three-quarters in 1:25.3. It's a pretty good head wind up the backstretch. My horse felt comfortable where he was at and he responded when I asked him. I let up on him and Ronnie [Pierce and Annieswesterncard] almost got me at the wire. [Won The West] probably needs three or four more starts to be on top of his game, but this will do."

Shark Gesture made the lead before the half and romped to a 1:51.3 victory in the second elimination for driver George Brennan and trainer Larry Remmen. The top five finishers in each Graduate split advanced to the $210,000 (est.) final to be raced next Saturday, May 15. The entire Graduate field, in alphabetical order, is: Annieswesterncard, Blueridge Western, Dial Or Nodial, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Lisagain, Mucho Sleazy, Pacinello, Share The Delight, Shark Gesture and Won The West.

In Saturday night’s $32,000 Invitational Pace, millionaire Southwind Lynx swept past the field with a :26.2 final quarter to put an end to Pilgrims Toner's seven-race win streak.

Golden Receiver (Andy Miller) sped off the gate from the inside post and put up a :26.1 first quarter as the 4-5 favourite, Pilgrims Toner (Yannick Gingras), strolled up alongside and took control shortly after. Lets Getit Started (George Brennan) was next to make his move angling out from fourth and charging to command just past the half in :55.3. He showed the way to three-quarters in 1:24 and around the final turn as his four rivals began to spread out across the track for the stretch drive. As most went wide, the trailing Southwind Lynx, with driver Tim Tetrick, ducked down along the pylons and emerged the winner by a half-length over Pilgrims Toner in 1:51.1. Golden Receiver completed the trifecta as Lets Getit Started made a late break.

Southwind Lynx returned $14.80 to win as the 6-1 fourth choice. The six-year-old son for Real Artist-Luxury Class is trained by George Teague, Jr. for K And R Racing LLC of Houston and Teague Inc. of Harrington, Delaware. Southwind Lynx’s sixth win in 11 starts this season bumped his earnings to $147,250.

Driver Montrell Teague, the son of trainer George Teague Jr., also picked up his first Meadowlands win aboard Mr Apples (1:50.2).

To view Saturday’s results, click here.

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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