"I've given that some thought because I've heard other people's opinions, and I think anybody that's realistic when you put your top group together - whether it's top three - he has got to be in the conversation
. Just to be associated with those horses is a high compliment. For myself, I think the run that he's been on since his defeat in the Oliver Wendell Holmes, since that race he's been such an impressive skein, it didn't matter where he went or what size racetrack."
On today's Trot Radio, trainer Bruce Saunders discusses the end of his tremendous run with the odds-on choice for U.S. Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven. The strapping son of Rocknroll Hanover-Artistic Vision makes his final career start in Sunday's Matron Final at Dover Downs, and according to Saunders his form is excellent.
"I found with him here of late, because we are getting towards the end of his career and I'm not managing him anymore for a year - I'm just managing him for a month or so, I've trained him a little harder of late and he seems to thrive on the work. I think he's been sharper his last few starts than he's been at any time throughout his career."
Norm Borg also asks Saunders for the single moment that most stands out from the highlight reel moment-filled sophomore campaign. Many would agree that the two-heat performance in the Little Brown Jug stamped Rock N Roll Heaven as a serious superstar.
"The Jug was an awakening for the entire harness world to acknowledge just what kind of talent this horse had. I've been lucky enough to be with him every day since we acquired him and I've seen him do three or four things our of the norm that made my hair stand on end."
Saunders confirmed to Trot Radio that Rock N Roll Heaven was slated for stud duty in New Jersey but the recent supplement to the Hanson Report forced the ownership group to change plans at the last minute and move to New York instead.
"The Bellinos had to make some hard decisions as to what to do with their colt. They love the Perrettis, it's a great facility in New Jersey, they have an outstanding group of mares. We were looking forward to a great relationship and a wonderful book of mares for that horse, but when New Jersey blew up, you know, you can't bring any stallion into the State with the uncertainty of the future."
On that future, Saunders didn't mince words on the state of racing in New Jersey.
"This Governor, Governor Christie, who was a prosecutor, if he was still a prosecutor and this was another Governor I'm sure he would be having an investigation into if not corruption, then collusion."
The full interview with Borg and Saunders, one of the most well-spoken individuals in harness racing, is available below.
Episode 164 – Trainer Bruce Saunders
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg