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A Rocknroll Dance Looks To Elude Cup Rivals

Published: June 6, 2012 8:07 pm ET

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If A Rocknroll Dance is as difficult to catch on the racetrack as he is in the field, trainer Jim Mulinix could be looking at a big season with the colt.

The term “good feeling” is appropriate when talking about A Rocknroll Dance, who enters Saturday’s eliminations for the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup for three-year-old male pacers at Mohawk Racetrack as one of the race’s top contenders. Last year, he won seven of 11 starts, including the Governor’s Cup, and earned $858,961 for Mulinix, who now owns the colt with Diamond Creek Farm, Denny Miller and the J&T Silva Stables.

A Rocknroll Dance is in the first of two North America Cup elims. The top five finishers from each division advance to the final, to be held June 16 at Mohawk. The connections of elim winners will get to pick their post position.

In getting ready for the races, Mulinix gives A Rocknroll Dance ample playtime in the field, which the colt relishes.

“We turn him out every day before we jog him and then try to get him out a little later in the afternoon,” Mulinix said. “He’s a little calmer than last year, but a little harder to catch in the field. He likes to come up and play with you, grabbing at you and running away. Sometimes we use a bucket with a little feed in it; that seems to help.

“But I’m glad when he’s feeling good.”

Mulinix purchased A Rocknroll Dance, a son of Rocknroll Hanover, for $15,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. The colt’s mother, Wichita Hanover, is a half-sister to standout racehorse and sire Western Hanover as well as multiple stakes-winner Wendy M Hanover, who is the dam of 2003 Woodrow Wilson winner Modern Art.

Last year, A Rocknroll Dance opened eyes when he won his Metro Pace elimination in 1:49.1, which at the time equalled the world record for a two-year-old pacer. He finished second in the million-dollar final, losing by a half-length to Simply Business.

A Rocknroll Dance also was second to Sweet Lou in the Breeders Crown, which went in a world-record 1:49.

In addition to winning the Governor’s Cup, A Rocknroll Dance won divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes. He finished second to Sweet Lou in Dan Patch Award voting for the best two-year-old male pacer and second to Warrawee Needy in O'Brien Award voting.

This year, A Rocknroll Dance won a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes before finishing second by a nose to Time To Roll in the NJSS championship.

Sweet Lou, Simply Business and Time To Roll are entered in the North America Cup eliminations. Other hopefuls include Art Rooney Pace winner Pet Rock, Upper Canada Cup winner Michaels Power, 2011 Woodrow Wilson winner Major Bombay, 2011 New Jersey Sire Stakes champion I Fought Dalaw, 2011 Ontario Sire Stakes champion Warrawee Needy and stakes-winners Hurrikane Kingcole and Easy Again.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how everybody measures up,” Mulinix said. “It looks like there are plenty of good ones, and they’re pretty good early. Depending on how the race sets up, there are so many horses that can get home in 26 [seconds] that anybody could win. There’s so much talent this year that it’s going to kind of boil down to who can survive a long season.

“I think [A Rocknroll Dance] is pretty good right now. We haven’t really tried to turn the screws too tight, but he seems a little better gaited than last year. He seems to be good and relaxed. As two-year-olds, you can kind of have it your way. These three-year-olds get home so good that you need a decent trip to be competitive all the time; you can’t just overpower the field. That’s the driver’s job, to know the horse and try to set up a trip that suits him.”

A Rocknroll Dance has finished worse than second only once in 13 lifetime starts heading into the North America Cup elims. Mulinix hopes his colt’s consistency pays off again this season.

“What I liked last year is when things got tough, he seemed to dig in and get tougher,” Mulinix said. “He had a couple really tough trips and he hung on pretty good at the end. It seems like he’s better when he’s got a horse to race.

“Even training, if you cut the mile with him, he’s more interested in visiting with the horse coming alongside him rather than racing him. If he’s following a horse, he’s a lot more racy. I prefer not to see him on the front early all the time with these horses, but you also can’t get too far back because so many of these horses get home in 26 [seconds] and a piece. You’ve got to keep them in contention.”

With so many talented horses in the fields, winning the elimination and being able to select the post position for the final is a crucial factor.

“I think that will be pretty important this year,” Mulinix said. “Drawing outside too far and having to go those extra steps could be just enough of a difference. I think the two, three or four-hole would be pretty good.”

Here are the elimination fields in post position order for the Pepsi North America Cup, with listed drivers and trainers.

Elimination 1 - Race 5 - $50,000 purse

1. Michaels Power - S. Zeron - C. Coleman
2. Pet Rock - B. Sears - V. Morgan
3. Secretsoftheknight - D. McNair - G. McNair
4. Dapper Dude - J. Campbell - R. McIntosh
5. Mel Mara - L. Ouellette - T. Alagna
6. A Rocknroll Dance - Y. Gingras - J. Mulinix
7. Time To Roll - A. Miller - J. Takter
8. Allstar Legend - T. Tetrick - G. Teague
9. State Treasurer - J. Jamieson - I. Moore
10. Hillbilly Hanover - D. Miller - R. Norman

Elimination 2 - Race 8 - $50,000 purse

1. Sweet Lou - D. Palone - R. Burke
2. I Fought Dalaw - D. Miller - S. DePinto
3. Simply Business - R. Pierce - J. Takter
4. Hurrikane Kingcole - T. Tetrick - J. McDermott
5. Major Bombay - J. Bartlett - T. Alagna
6. Warrawee Needy - J. Jamieson - C. Jamieson
7. Easy Again - M. Teague - G. Teague
8. Bettors Edge - T. Tetrick - L. Toscano
9. Thinking Out Loud - R. Waples - R. McIntosh

To view entries for Saturday night's star-studded card of harness racing, click one of the following links:
Saturday Entries - Mohawk Racetrack -- Saturday Program Pages - Mohawk Racetrack


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

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