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Saunders On Rock N Roll Heaven Qualifier

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Published: June 15, 2010 10:28 am ET

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In an effort to get a clean chartline before the box for the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations closed at 10:30 this morning, the Bruce Saunders-trained Rock N Roll Heaven competed in the first qualifying race this morning at Mohawk Racetrack.

The need to qualify came after the highly-touted three-year-old Rocknroll Hanover colt made a break in stride prior to the half-mile marker in his division of the Burlington Stakes at Mohawk this past Saturday night.

After having gone first-up along the backstretch under very foggy conditions at the Campbellville, Ont. oval, Dube and Rock N Roll Heaven cleared to the lead prior to the opening half. When the lights in the half-mile timing panel flashed to life they spooked Rock N Roll Heaven, who then went off stride shied away from the board. The race would go on to be won by Ideal Matters (and driver Dave Palone) in 1:50.1. Though he eventually would go on to finish his mile, Rock N Roll Heaven was charted as being pulled up and a DNF (did not finish), thus the need to qualify this morning.

2010 Burlington Stakes (Division No. 2) - Ideal Matters - 1:50.1

With driver Roger Mayotte in the racebike for regular pilot Dan Dube this morning, Rock N Roll Heaven started from Post 2 in the eight-horse opening qualifier. The duo got were forwardly-placed off the gate and were second by the time the opening quarter flashed to life in :27.

Mayotte and Rock N Roll Heaven were on the move in the second quarter of the race. They eventually tripped the timer at the opening half-mile marker in :57.1 while overland.

On the engine through the third quarter, Mayotte and Rock N Roll Heaven passed the third call in 1:25.3. The pair came home with another solid quarter (:26.2) to cap off the 1:52 mile. The margin of victory was three and a half lengths.

Saunders was interviewed by the Woodbine Entertainment Group after Rock N Roll Heaven's qualifying effort this morning, and the trainer conveyed that he was relieved after seeing his colt go a clean mile.

"Oh, for sure. This was the last place I expected to be this morning -- at qualifiers, getting eligible for eliminations Saturday night. After what transpired Saturday, I'm glad we were here. I think he needed the work, and he'll be a lot better this Saturday from having the qualifier this morning. It was a very scary situation. It was an eerie, foggy night here and the half-mile timer flashed up and caught him by surprise.

In regard to how the colt reacted to the half-mile timer this morning, Saunders said that his colt did notice it again.

"He looked at it warming up, and Roger said as he was going down to the half he kind of peeked at it again; he had to growl at him to straighten him up. We might make a subtle equipment change for Saturday. But we were worried (during the Burlington race). That was the longest minute or so, waiting for him to come out of the fog Saturday night. There are a lot of things that could've happened: going down in to the ravine; into the infield; I didn't know if Danny was okay. We were relieved to see him come out of the fog. His (Rock N Roll Heaven's) demeanour was good. His gait was good. He appeared sound. I jogged him Sunday before I went back to New Jersey and he was great. I thought he was very effective today; this was the kind of work that he needed."

Earlier this year, Rock N Roll Heaven was assessed as the 8-1 third choice in Trot Magazine's 2010 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book

To view the results from the Mohawk qualifiers, click here.


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