Bruce Saunders, trainer of O'Brien Award winner Rock N Roll Heaven, has gone on the record as saying that his star charge was sick when he raced in the 2010 North America Cup, but yet he rebounded to finish up his three-year-old campaign similar to the way Somebeachsomewhere did.
An article by Dave Briggs in the Guelph Mercury cites Saunders as saying that the $1.5 final of the Pepsi North America Cup was the only time the great son of Rocknroll Hanover raced sick. He was also quoted as saying that the colt's break of stride in the Burlington Stakes two weeks prior to the rich event probably had a lot to do with it.
“I think getting spooked that night (in the Burlington Stakes) in the eerie fog contributed to him not winning the North America Cup. It was bizarre,” Saunders said about Rock N Roll Heaven, who is a heavy favourite to capture at least one Dan Patch Award this weekend. “The only night Rock N Roll Heaven raced in his entire career that he wasn’t on his game, health-wise, was in the North America Cup. . . . I think that was a result of the stress of having to go three times off the gate in a 10-day period. But, other than that, every time he showed up and he got beat, the horse that beat him just had a career night to beat him.”
After Rock N Roll Heaven's fourth-place finish in the 'Cup,' the racing world watched the now-retired bay go on a tear where he won virtually every stakes event he was entered to. “What we accomplished this year in terms of money earnings and major events and the way he finished off the year, that’s the kind of stint that you watched Somebeachsomewhere go through,” Saunders was quoted as saying.
The article cites Saunders as saying that Rock N Roll Heaven's O'Brien Award win in January meant quite a to himself and the rest of the horse's connections.
“I know that the O’Brien Awards are very, very special awards for Canadian horsemen,” Saunders said. “We were humbled to be nominated and feel honoured to be the recipient of the award.”
(With files from the Guelph Mercury)