Rock N Roll Heaven Goes Out On A High Note
As the saying goes, rock and roll is here to stay but Rock N Roll Heaven is off to stud duty after his swan song win in the $181,000 Matron Stakes at Dover Downs on Sunday night
Rock N Roll Heaven drew the advantageous rail in the six-horse field and driver Daniel Dube used that position to his advantage, not taking any chances and placing Rock N Roll Heaven on top of the field with Delmarvalous (Brian Sears) on his helmet. The first quarter was reached in :26.3 and the field paced in straight alignment until just before the :55 half when Rockin Image (Yannick Gingras) launched the first-over bid.
Down the backside, Dube asked his pacer for more speed and Rock N Roll Heaven responded with a brisk brush to hit three-quarters in 1:21.4 and open up three lengths around the final turn. That margin of command would not be comprised as Dube kept his pacer on task to win by three in 1:50.1 over Delmarvalous with Rockin Image holding on for third.
The victory was the sixteenth of the season in 21 assignments and tenth straight for Rock N Roll Heaven, who is owned by Frank Bellino of Bronxville, NY. The lion’s share of Sunday’s purse lifted the pacer’s lifetime bankroll to $2,774,480 and he heads to the breeding shed in New York with 20 wins in 30 lifetime starts.
The win solidifies Rock N Roll Heaven as the 1-9 choice for harness racing's Horse Of The Year Award in the U.S. After the race, the connections shared their thoughts on the tremendous run with Dover's Marv Bachrad.
"I'd love to have more horses like that, a horse like that is tough to get," said driver Daniel Dube, "he's just been getting better and better."
Trainer Bruce Saunders, who at one time served for the Delaware Division of Economic Development, recalled the precise moment he knew his prized pupil had superstar talent.
"Early on, he showed terrific ability racing from behind. Dan qualified him one day and he ran off in 51 and 1, and did it really handy, and everybody thought the teletimer was broken - but it wasn't," stated Saunders. "That was the first time he got on the front end and a light switch went on, and he's just been a gorilla since then."
Joe Bellino, son of owner Frank, was on hand for the colt's final race.
"The horse has represented the family all along," said Bellino, "I can't be prouder of him. It's a sad day, it's a bittersweet moment. The horse retiring to Blue Chip, it's been a great experience. I want to say to my Dad, 'I hope you really enjoyed it'."
As announced earlier this week, Rock N Roll Heaven will now stand stud for the 2011 breeding season at Blue Chip Farms in New York.
On the Matron undercard, pacers Powerful Mist and Dyslexic and trotters All Clear and First Captain posted second leg $20,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund (DSBF) victories in colt and gelding divisions setting up next week's $100,000 finals.
Powerful Mist rang up his ninth win of the season winning his second straight DSBF $20,000 prelim holing off Three Martinis (Montrell Teague) easily in a 1:53.1 mile. Jim Morand drove the freshman son of Powerful Toy-Misty Speed for owners Niel Gargiulo, Louie Paglierani and Legacy Racing. Wayne Givens trains the winner of $207,537 this year. Princely Asset (Roger Plante) finished third.
George Dennis drove Donna Rae Sullivan’s Dyslexic (Three Olives - Spell Check), to his second straight DSBF win coming from behind to catch front pacing Green Olives (Art Stafford Jr.) in the final strides for a 1:54.4 score in a second prelim. Powerful Odds (John Wagner) was the show horse.
All Clear, owned, trained and driven by Carlo Poliseno won the faster of two DSBF rookie trots in 2:002. The CR Commando-Partial Clearing colt was chased home by Horton Who (Roger Plante) and Obey The Command (Brad Hanners), second and third respectively.
First Captain led off the day’s proceedings with a 2:01.4 DSBF trot, his second straight prelim triumph with Ross Wolfenden driving the CR Commando-Bonfire Hanover gelding for Sharon White, Blake Baker and Legacy Racing
The top eight point-getters in each division will race in four DSBF $100,000 finals next Sunday.