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McCarthy's Loving 'The Rodeo’

Published: May 22, 2019 2:07 pm ET

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When pacer Rodeo Rock won his seasonal debut for driver Andy McCarthy from an impossible spot, the reinsman began contemplating all that might be possible for the six-year-old gelding.

“He kind of excited me that night,” McCarthy said after recounting Rodeo Rock’s eight-wide rally from last place in the stretch at the Meadowlands Racetrack during the March 2 preferred handicap. “I finally got him out like halfway through the stretch and he paced on and got by a couple good horses. He won from a spot that he wasn’t supposed to win from, an impossible spot.

“He was a good horse last year, but I think he can mix it up with the big boys this year.”

McCarthy’s excitement for Rodeo Rock led him to drive the horse in the Levy Series at Yonkers, where he hit the board in all five starts, including two wins in preliminary rounds and a second-place finish in the final. For the season, McCarthy has driven the gelding in seven of his eight races.

On Sunday (May 26), Rodeo Rock will be among eight older male pacers in the $100,000 Commodore Barry Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The field will also include last year’s winner of the race, Filibuster Hanover, as well as 2018 Dayton Pacing Derby winner Donttellmeagain and 2018 Meadowlands Pace and Little Brown Jug champion Courtly Choice.

Rodeo Rock heads to the Commodore Barry off a 1:49 win in a Great Northeast Open Series race at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, where Eric Goodell handled the driving.

“He’s been racing great,” McCarthy said. “He did an excellent job in the Levy Series and he just dead-set jogged in (1:) 49 at Pocono. I think he is ready to put on a big show on Sunday.”

Rodeo Rock has won four of eight races this year and earned $264,400 for trainer Robert Cleary and owner Royal Wire Products. Lifetime, the son of Rock N Roll Heaven-Electric Fool has 24 victories in 89 races and $623,055 in purses.

“He’s a big strong horse with high speed,” McCarthy said. “He can do it any way. You can sit back, you can leave with him, he can come first over; pretty much drive him the way the race goes. Robert Cleary has done a great job with him, managed him very [well]. He’s kind of looking at the big picture.”


Caviart Ally, pictured victorious at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

McCarthy’s workload at ‘Philly’ on Sunday will also include a drive behind Caviart Ally in the $100,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers. The eight-mare field will also include defending champ Shartin N.

Caviart Ally, a five-year-old mare owned by Caviart Farms, is a multiple-stakes-winner whose triumphs include the 2017 Jugette and 2018 Milton Stakes. She has earned $1.19 million during her career.

Last year, Caviart Ally won seven of 19 races and earned $341,291. She finished second on three occasions to the Dan Patch Award-winning Shartin N, including in the Breeders Crown. She will start the Betsy Ross from Post 3 while Shartin N will line up in Post 7.

“We’ll want to take advantage of that good draw; it’s not often that she draws that [well],” McCarthy said, laughing, as he referred to Caviart Ally’s two stakes starts from Post 9, one from Post 8, and one from Post 12 last year. “We might as well make the most of it.”

Caviart Ally made her 2019 debut with a second-place finish in a conditioned race at Pocono before posting wins in the preferred for fillies and mares at the Meadowlands and in the second round of the Rainbow Blue Series at the ‘Big M.’ She was previously trained by Noel Daley, who returned to his native Australia at the end of last season, and now is in the stable of Brett Pelling.

“She’s been terrific,” McCarthy said. “She’s a pretty big mare and she takes a couple starts to really get tuned up. Her last start at the Meadowlands was great. I think she is just going to be better going forward. I know she came home in :25.4 (in her most recent race), but I think she’ll be even better this week from that run.

“Brett has changed her up a little bit. He’s gone with an open bridle; she always kind of had a closed bridle on (previously). She’s probably a little more relaxed now. She’s getting the job done on the end of the mile.”

Following Sunday’s races, McCarthy will head to Sweden for three days to watch his younger brother, Todd, represent Australia in the World Driving Championship.

“It should be cool,” McCarthy said.

Racing will begin at 12:40 p.m. on Sunday at Harrah’s Philadelphia. In addition to the Betsy Ross and Commodore Barry, the track will also host the $100,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters and three divisions of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes for three-year-old male pacers.

(USTA)


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