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Monday, June 8, 2015

Rocknroll Hanover

The great pacing stallion Rocknroll Hanover passed on March 14, 2013 at a clinic in New Jersey, after showing signs of gastric distress at a Perretti satellite site in Pennsylvania. He was only eleven-years-old.  The son of Western Ideal and Rich N Elegant, who brought $190,000 at Harrisburg, had won 15 races and earned $2.7 million during his two-year career.

Rocknroll stood his first season at Perretti Farms in New Jersey in 2006 for a $15,000 stud fee. He drew 189 mares, resulting in 151 registered foals in 2007. These included his richest son, Rock N Roll Heaven, and his richest and fastest daughter, Put On A Show. The former is sending his second crop to the races after getting mixed results from the first, while POAS has been retired and bred to Somebeachsomewhere. Their first filly will sell at Lexington Selected this year.

Others from that initial offering include millionaires Rock N Soul and Ticket To Rock, as well as Tobago Cays, Classic Rock NRoll and Valentino. Rockin Image, who is making a name for himself as a sire in Indiana, via his son Freaky Feet Pete and others, was also from that crop.

The venerable race mare Rocklamation came from Rocknroll’s second crop, as did Pretty Katherine, but there were no great fillies of colts in that offering. The import Foreclosure N earned the most of any in the stallion ranks. Other standouts were Rollwithitharry, Abelard Hanover and Fat Man’s Alley. As is often the case, the second crop was disappointing when measured against the first.

Foreclosure bred 33 mares in Ohio in 2013, resulting in 20 registered foals. He raced eight times in the fall of that year, so the stallion experiment was apparently concluded for now. Roclamation was bought back at the Tattersalls Mixed sale by two of her owners but failed to get in foal, so she’s back racing with little success.

A Rocknroll Dance and Pet Rock, both world record holders at four, put a charge in crop number three. The former won the Pace and banked $1.8 million at two and three, while Pet Rock earned about a million dollars at three. The competition for supremacy in that division was fierce. Breeders Crown winner Heston Blue Chip won the Dan Patch Award; Michaels Power took the Jug; Thinking Out Loud won the Cup and Sweet Lou took the Tattersalls Pace.

ARNRD and Pet Rock both blossomed at four. Pet Rock, who stands in Ohio, set records in the Winbak at Delaware—1:48.1—and the Ewart at Scioto—1:47.2—in successive weeks. Dance, who now stands in Pennsylvania was the first to put three sub 1:48 wins together. Both were very well received in the stallion ranks. Pet Rock bred 137 mares last year, while A Rocknroll Dance bred 139.

Panther Hanover, who won the New Jersey Classic in 1:47.2, is another speed demon from that class. The son of the successful race mare Panned Out has not mimicked the popularity of his paternal brothers. He bred nine mares in New York last year.

Simply Business, Time To Roll and Rockaround Sue are a few more from the third crop.

I Luv The Nitelife came along the following year. She set world records at two and three and won more money during that stretch than any filly ever had. Nitelife was retired last season and sold to Diamond Creek Farm.

By 2010 Rocknroll Hanover was standing for $20,000, and he went to $25,000 in 2011. As was the case with just about every stallion, the economic downturn required an adjustment. And the upheaval in New Jersey regarding the viability of The Meadowlands compounded the problem for the folks at Perretti. His fee was dropped to $15,000 in 2012 and that’s where it was when he passed the following year.

Crop number five, the horses that are now four-year-olds, didn’t overwhelm anyone at the top end, at least while they were colts and fillies. There were 149 registered, 67 colts and 82 fillies. Their collective earnings were down considerably from those that preceded them.

At the same time, Rocknroll is currently second to Bettor’s Delight among all-age pacers, with 355 starters showing more than $5 million in earnings. Last year he was also second to Bettor’s Delight, with 446 earning well over $13 million. So the hundreds of low profile, journeyman Rocknrolls are killing it year after year at tracks all over North America. Almost two hundred of them have eclipsed the $100 mark.

Some are coming alive at four. Rockeyed Optimist, who has won 9 of 10 starts this year, including wins in the finals of the Sonsam Series and the Clyde Hirt, is one of them. Over the weekend he came first up at the half and beat Cup winner JK Endofanera and Jug winner Limelight Beach in a split of the Graduate for Tim Tetrick.

Doo Wop Hanover, who paid $64 when he won his two-year-old Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono Downs, and who recently won the first leg of the Graduate in a track record 1:47.4 at Tioga, took another Graduate split on Saturday as he ran down All Bets Off, again for Tetrick. He matched his paternal brother’s 1:48 winning time.

Of this year’s sophomore class, Happiness, a sister to Pangiorno, won the Reynolds for Ron Burke and has been one of the top fillies in the NJSS. Rock N Roll World, a son of two-time division champ Worldly Beauty and a brother to World Of Rocknroll, was second in high-end races five times this year, before finishing third in the Rooney. He’s staked to the Cup. And Hurrikane Ali is another promising colt.

Obviously Rocknroll hasn’t had time to prove himself as a productive broodmare sire, but it’s hard to imagine that not being the case. Rocknroll Hanover mares offer enticing outcross opportunities to Somebeachsomwhere. More than two dozen such foals have been registered. And stallions from the Adios line are also a good fit for his mares: there are already 20 by Art Major and eight by Sportswriter.

Adios line stallion McArdle has produced last year’s sophomore division champ McWicked as well as his richest daughter, Big McDeal, with Western Ideal mares. And three-time Molson winner, State Treasurer (Real Artist), is out of one of his mares.

There are also good opportunities for stallions from the Meadow Skipper line: Bettor’s Delight has sired 17, Well Said seven and Dragon Again eight. And there are three by Shadyshark Hanover and one by Custard The Dragon.

The world’s reigning expert on Rocknroll, Bob Marks, sees matching up the sons of Most Happy Fell as the key to it all. We’ve had a run of great pacing fillies lately, and three of the best, See You At Peelers, American Jewel and I Luv The Nitelife, all follow this template. Their sires are Bettor’s Delight, American Ideal and Rocknroll, respectively. Their dams are by Western Ideal, Camluck and Camluck again.

Badlands Hanover is by Western Hanover and out of a Tyler B mare. BC winner and top tier player in the NA Cup, Traceur Hanover, is by Western Ideal and out of a Camluck mare. Heston Blue Chip is by Rocknroll’s paternal brother American Ideal and out of a Cam’s Card Shark mare. While FFA speedball Shark Gesture is a son of Cam’s Card Shark out of a Western Hanover mare. All of them go back to MHF top and bottom.

Many significant stallions have passed early: Meadow Skipper’s sire Dale Frost passed at 17 after breaking a leg; Skipper’s most influential siring son, Most Happy Fella, also passed at 17 after breaking a leg. Billy Direct died of heart trouble at age 13. Noble Gesture, who died from a heart attack at age 13 in 1981, saw his son Balanced Image carry him into the 21st century, and his granddaughter, Feeling Great, produce Self Possessed, the granddad of Father Patrick.

Rocknroll left enough pieces to extend himself, top and bottom. That speed and grit we saw from Doo Wop Hanover and Rockeyed Optimist on Saturday night should be in evidence from the sons and daughters of Rocknroll Heaven, Rockin Image, A Rocknroll Dance, Pet Rock and all the rest well into the future.

Joe FitzGerald

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