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IDEAL ROCKY HOPES FOR BETTER LUCK IN MEADOWLANDS PACE ELIM

-- Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

MANALAPAN, NJ -- July 5, 2016 -- Ideal Rocky hasn’t found himself in many ideal situations this season, but trainer John Butenschoen remains a fan of the 3-year-old pacer and hopes his luck can change in Saturday’s lone Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace elimination at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The top nine finishers in the elimination will advance to the $736,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace final on July 16 at the Big M, where they will join bye-recipient Racing Hill. Saturday’s card also includes the Graduate Series championships for trotters and pacers as well as two Reynolds Memorial divisions for 3-year-old female trotters.

Ideal Rocky’s luck certainly was no good in the draw for the Pace elimination, as he got post 10 in the 10-horse field. In his previous start, he had post eight in a conditioned race at Mohawk and got stuck on the outside for most of the mile. Before that, he had post eight in his North America Cup elimination and failed to advance to the final. And he had post six in the six-horse New Jersey Sire Stakes championship, where he finished third despite a :26.1 last quarter-mile.

“It is what it is,” Butenschoen said. “That’s part of horseracing.

“The horse is a good horse. It’s a long season and hopefully he’ll get his chance to show it somewhere down the line here. You just hope things will turn around at some point.”

Ideal Rocky, a son of stallion Rocknroll Hanover --- the 2005 Meadowlands Pace winner --- out of the stakes-winning mare Eternity’s Delight, was purchased for $47,000 under the name Rocabybaby Fashion at the 2014 Standardbred Horse Sale. He is owned by William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, and Eugene Schick.

Last year, Ideal Rocky won a division of the International Stallion Stakes and defeated future Dan Patch Award-winner Boston Red Rocks in both the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old male pacers and the Lou Babic. For his career, Ideal Rocky has won five of 20 races and earned $263,873.

Ideal Rocky heads to the Meadowlands Pace elimination off a qualifier on July 2 at the Meadowlands. He finished second, sandwiched between Pace hopefuls Good Living and Check Six.

“I was real happy with his qualifier the other day and (driver) Corey (Callahan) was real happy with him,” Butenschoen said. “We figured we’d throw our hat in the fire again. The only silver lining (to the Pace elimination draw) is that he only has to beat one horse, and if he can’t beat one he doesn’t deserve to be in the final.”

Ideal Rocky wasn’t eligible to last week’s Max C. Hempt Memorial, which was won by Racing Hill. Following the Meadowlands Pace, the colt is eligible to the Adios and New Jersey Classic.

“The schedule is impossible,” Butenschoen said. “Everyone asks what you have to do to get owners or keep owners in the business, and staking is one of the major obstacles. It’s expensive as all get out if you were to pay them into every week, and they’re not easy miles.

“Do you pay them into everything and then pick your races as you go? Or do you just opt to take out something? We picked our spots. The horse has been good on a mile track. We know if he’s healthy he’s going to have several weeks in a row, so it might not hurt to skip a week.”

The Meadowlands Pace elimination includes, from post one through nine: Talk Show, Lyons Snyder, Another Daily Copy, JK Will Power, Boston Red Rocks, Manhattan Beach, Good Living, Check Six, and Control The Moment.

Check Six, from the barn of trainer Ron Burke, won this year’s Pennsylvania Classic, where stablemate JK Will Power finished second. JK Will Power also finished second in the Hempt Memorial. Control The Moment, last year’s O’Brien Award winner in Canada, finished third in the North America Cup, behind Betting Line and Racing Hill.

Betting Line wasn’t eligible to the Meadowlands Pace.

“It’s very rare that these horses can go out there and be good from beginning to end,” Butenschoen said. “They’re going to trade blows as they go along. Hopefully (Ideal Rocky) is right at the right time if we do draw inside.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.”


Photo by Lisa Photo


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