Hi there,

Welcome to issue #10 of Insider Access.

Released every 2 weeks, Insider Access showcases insider rumors and commentary in the worldwide harness racing industry.

Each issue includes an exclusive Stallion review not available anywhere else - this week we review Rock N Roll Heaven.

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Boxing match at the Hambletonian?

We can understand how people can get so overwhelmed with passion for harness racing. It is very exciting. It has the drama of who will win, can my horse beat your horse, and we have the ability to make legal wagers on the outcome of nearly every event to back up our verbal claims of who is the best.

But some people seem to take it a bit over the top and punches begin to fly.

Insider Access has heard that in the Pink Restaurant well known harness racing identity Ernie Martinez was talking with trainer Jerry Riordan when Captaintreacherous part owner and manager Myron Bell interjected and remarked to Riordan "you don't want to talk to that scumbag".

More words were exchanged and the word is Bell took the first swing at Martinez then followed that up with a kick. Martinez's reply knocked Bell's glasses clear off his face and Meadowlands Owner Jeff Gural and Manager Jason Settlemoir were called in to keep the peace.

On a positive note, Insider Access spoke to trainer Tony Alagna and rumours of an altercation between Alagna and driver Ron Pierce are patently false.

Maybe if there is enough interest in these fights we should hold some cage matches in the winner’s circle before the start of the racing program.

The Irish, Scots, Welsh and Brits have true passion for racing

The harness racing people in Ireland and the United Kingdom know an awful lot about racing in North America. From the old timers who bragged how they had met and knew Del Miller, Stanley Dancer and Billy Haughton, to the young kids, age 15 and less, who wanted to know if we have seen Sweet Lou’s race from the night before and if he could really go in 1:45 like Ron Pierce said he could.

Many have been to America and Canada on holidays and of course, went to the harness races.

These people have true passion for the sport. They live, breathe, eat and sleep harness racing. They mostly work full time jobs in other vocations, but find the time in the mornings or after work to jog and train their horses and they can’t wait for the weekends to race them. There are many whose full time jobs are in harness racing and they do it all, racing, breeding, farming, trucking, blacksmithing, you name it and they can do it.

Their passion is so deep that it does not matter what the purse for the race is as long as they have racing taking place. It could be for a ribbon or just a trophy. It is true “grass roots” racing.

They cheered as the race got underway, they cheered as the field passed by at the half mile and, of course, they cheered at the finish and applauded the winner getting their photo taken.

And just like most everywhere there is harness racing, there are no boundaries in the comradery of Standardbred racing. It does not matter where you are from, ethnic wise, or your station in life, if you are into harness racing, you are part of the family.

If only we could bottle this passion that was seen in Ireland this past weekend, and that takes place every week in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Hungary, Argentina, Bermuda, everywhere that harness racing takes place throughout the world and feed it to others, our industry would thrive forever.

New Zealand “Horse of the Year” Awards.

It is never easy every year to take the New Zealand racing awards seriously when they have such an outdated and archaic way of determining who should be awarded the title of being the best in each respective age group.

This year the voting papers were sent out to twenty one people involved in the media who cover harness racing. Judging by the results they may as well have asked the Thoroughbred Breeders Association to choose the winners in each division. Some of the horses selected by our esteemed panel of media experts are just so hard to fathom unless ignorance is an excuse.

Votes were recorded in various divisions for horses that just beggared belief.

As an example we have Monbet. He won the Jewels with a performance that was world class, bolting in after being off the track most of the way. As expected Monbet was “2-Year-Old Colt of the Year” but someone voted for Prince Fearless ahead of Monbet. How could you do that is beyond us but it does shown a level of ignorance of harness racing that is mind boggling in our view.

How did five of the panel of twenty one select Joannes A Delight over the winner of the 2 year old fillies division Supersonic Miss, who was clearly the best filly going around and Linda Lovegrace who was clearly the second-best. Joannes A Delight and Linda Lovegrace met four times during the season with Linda Lovegrace holding a three to one advantage over her competitor. In the Jewels Linda Lovegrace was wide from barrier eight for 600 meters but still beat Joannes A Delight who spent most of the race in the trail from barrier three. But no, five media people thought Joannes A Delight was not only better than Linda Lovegrace but better than Supersonic Miss!

It defies all logic but it happens every year so you come to expect it in a way.

One of our main concerns is that we struggle to find 21 media people who are involved in harness racing on a full time basis. In our view the system is fatally flawed and needs a complete review. Until that happens in our view the awards in their present form is a joke.

Clubs – The need for change

Recently we published an opinion piece on Harnesslink with regards to how harness racing is run in New Zealand and the drastic and urgent need for change. Though we have obviously upset some industry people we do not reconcile from what we wrote in any shape or form. In our view the need for change is blindingly obvious to most industry participants.

It has been immensely satisfying to us here at Harnesslink to have received so much positive support from so many quarters from all over New Zealand on the publication of our recent opinion piece. It is not a matter that we are going to drop and to that end we are in the process of setting up a group of like-minded people as a first step to having meetings around New Zealand to canvas more widely the support for change.

The industry cannot survive in our view unless the management structure is changed to a system more relevant to the 21st century. Time is short as people are leaving the industry at an alarming rate in our view.

The article below concerning the outstanding trainer Richard Brosnan may be only the tip of the iceberg from conversations we have had with people in the industry.

Read Brosnan winds down: 'The game's buggered'

The time for action is at hand and we will keep you posted with our progress.

Stallion Review - Rock N Roll Heaven
Rock N Roll Heaven
Rock N Roll Heaven

9th August 2014


Rock N Roll Heaven is by Rocknroll Hanover out of Artistic Vision by Artsplace from Armbro Ophelia by Cam Fella

Rocknroll Hanover - statistics

Eligible to race - 864

Winners - 503

$2,000,000+ - 4

$1,000,000+ - 8

$100,000+ - 155

Sub 1:50 - 52

Average earnings per starter $102,940

Average earning per eligible horse - $77,443

Total earnings to date $66,910,881

Rocknroll Hanover

Rocknroll Hanover's caretaker Sarah Lauren Scott, at both age two and three, takes a walk down memory lane and recalls the magical career of her friend known as "Rock," including his accomplishment of being the only Standardbred in North America to ever to win three, $1 million races.

They say the memories you make will last a lifetime, and I am so thankful they do. When I close my eyes the memories become real again and every moment comes back to life. I can see the look on Brian Sear's face right after I told him (minutes before the Meadowlands Pace final), "If Rocknroll wins the Meadowlands Pace tonight, he will be the first Standardbred in history to win three, $1 million races." It was the look of confidence, with a side of pressure. I told him, not to worry, Rock was feeling great and on his game.

Rocknroll came into the Brett Pelling Stable looking like an open pacer... big strong shoulder, deep girth with a beautiful head. And a few months later, September 4, 2004 became a day many of us will never forget.

Rock had finished 3rd in his Metro elimination and had drawn into the $1.2 million Metro final by lot, as one of the two, third place finishers to make it. He came out of his elimination well and had a light week jogging. We did not race the horses out of the regular paddock that night, the Metro horses were showcased out of the front thoroughbred paddock at Woodbine, allowing the public to get a close look at the star two-year-olds.

While taking Rock out of his race stall fans were lined up and down the rail as a young girl with her father looked up and asked what the name was of the handsome bay colt wearing his red and black halter. I told her "His name is Rock." I brought him close as she gave him a touch to his nose and whispered, "Good luck."

The excitement of the night was all that and more. Rock walked out of the paddock with his head held high for post parade in his open bridle, and he let the others know he was there as he went out the door on his hind legs.

The two-year-olds stepped onto the track and little did we know we were in for a major upset. Rocknroll went off at odds of 31-1 and hammered down a 25.4 first quarter from post 7 as we stood back watching in awe. He then allowed Village Jolt to take over as he settled into the pocket. Brian (Sears) knew this colt had a shot and he pulled on the right line turning for home, taking control and scoring a Metro Pace victory. With excitement in his voice, Frank Salive let the world know that Rock just set a stakes, track and world record of 1:49.4, in this monumental upset that re-wrote harness racing history. Rocknroll Hanover was the first two-year-old to break the 1:50 barrier.

Rock was a typical two-year-old stud colt, feeling larger than life and happy to be alive. As we walked back to the test barn, we were congratulated by the entire next race of seated drivers as they passed by on their way to post parade.

He was now in the spotlight. Dave Landry came out the days following to take pictures. He was very impressed with "The softer side of Rock" as he took pictures of Rock outside enjoying himself in the company of his buddy Domi, his Jack Russell bodyguard. He was extremely well mannered in the barn. He acted like a classy old campaigner, one who has been there and done that.

Fast forward to his three-year-old year.

Rocknroll had time off and wintered at Glassford Equine in Ontario, Canada. I can remember 'Nifty' (Asst. Trainer, Richard Norman) bringing him down the shed row to his stall that was awaiting him, freshly prepared and maybe a touch over bedded. As Nifty handed him over to me he said, "Here's your boy."

We were all glad to see him back and Rock was just as glad to be back to work. With a brilliant training schedule that included different training methods and training miles, Rock was ready to go.

North America Cup 2005 was in our sights. After a victory in the New Jersey Classic, Rock was headed to Canada, fresh as ever. He settled into his home at Classy Lane Stables with ease. He won his elimination and showed us that he was very much a contender. And everyone else knew it too. When the North America Cup horses were being loaded up in the Mohawk detention area to be transported by Doyle Transport en-route to Woodbine, Rock was loaded last as the other caretakers joked about tying him to the back bumper (in a friendly reference to tiring him out before the race).

Here we were again, in the front paddock at Woodbine. It didn't seem like a year since we were 1 MTP at 31-1, and here we are heading out in the $1.5 million NA Cup as the 3/5 favourite.

He knew where he was again, back up on his hind legs, passing down the wood chip path making his presence known. He warmed up great and was going into the final ready to rock. And rock-and-roll he did, with an impressive win in 1:49.4, with a closing quarter in 26 flat.

And Elvis was in the building! When I turned around in the winner's circle we were greeted by a very excited Elvis! A man from Ohio known to dress up according to his favourite three-year-old pacing colt - that year he was Rocknroll Hanover's traveling fan. The happy tears and high fives were all around, people hugging and emotionally attached to this horse. The outpouring of support was overwhelming and welcomed, and even Tie Domi assisted in the Cup presentation.

The N.A. Cup and his three-year-old Breeders Crown victory are still my favourite races to watch over and over, as his dominance is so overpowering and moving. He always gave his all on the racetrack. He was born to be the champion he always was.

Back to New Jersey we went, holding our heads up high. Rocknroll was a great shipper, and was never bothered by much. He had a few extra days off and it was back to routine at White Birch Farms.

After a defeat in the Meadowlands Pace elimination we had a tough week, as we couldn't focus on anything but having Rock back on his game and ready for the $1 million final. I headed back to the farm each night to give him an extra walk. The hot summer had taken its toll on all of us. Come Meadowlands Pace morning Rock was himself, watching everything that was going on in the retention barn, and clearly ready to get out on the track. The entire race walked down in a group to the paddock and he was his usual self again, ears up and excited. I could feel the energy through the lead shank - he was all business.

In the Meadowlands paddock, there is an "in" and an "out" door. Rock had his own system thanks to help from Robert Sharky. He had his own "bad boy stall" in the Meadowlands paddock so he wouldn't get too aggressive or excited before the race. Then they always road blocked the "in" door for us so we could use it as his own personal "out" door to avoid any commotion while he performed his "walking on sunshine" routine as he always did. To be honest, I was very happy to see him jump up before he went out as I knew that meant he was feeling good. And he did it again... his third $1 million race victory - and still the only horse to ever accomplish this feat! Feeling good was an understatement, he was awesome and he did it in style, with a stakes record and career best of 1:48.3.

Walking back from the winner's circle we were cheered the entire way by excited fans clapping and shouting congratulations. Rock was the fan's horse, he knew he was special. He really enjoyed being in his routine and simply being a horse. He loved to play and never missed a meal. The presence you could feel off him was incredible, all class, a true athlete with the intelligence of Einstein. He was the complete package.


Rocknroll Heaven is from the very good Artsplace mare Artistic Vision 1:50.2, 34 wins ($644,623). Artistic Vision was a stakes winning two-year-old winning the Hayes Memorial. She held her own throughout her career racing against the champion race mares Worldly Beauty 1:49.3m ($2,146,076) and Loyal Opposition 1:48.4 ($2,804,051). She has had six foals for four winners to date and besides Rock N Roll Heaven she has left the outstanding Open horse, still racing today by Western Hanover, Clear Vision 1:48.2 ($1,999,052).

The second dam of Rock N Roll Heaven is the Cam Fella mare Armbro Ophelia p2,1:56.4f ($59,658). Armbro Ophelia left seven winners including Armbro Animate 1:50.1s ($1,366,048), My Masterpiece 1:50.3f ($418,893), Mybrothergeorge p2, 1:51.1 ($334,111), Armbro Dollar 1:54.2 ($141,011) and Armbro Ticket 1:53.4f ($117,802). Armbro Ticket (by Pacific Rocket) is the dam of seven winners including Tamayo 1:49.4f ($408,757) and Sold Out 1:54.3s ($183,820) and her daughters have left a number of minor winners as well. Armbro Ophelia is also the dam of Rockn Highland 1:52s ($107,960) and the Matt's Scooter mare Armbro Windchime and she is the dam and grand dam of several winners including Up Front Kyle 1:51.1f ($229,924) and Alibi Hanover 1:53f ($129,770).

The third dam of Rock N Roll Heaven is the good Sonsam race mare Jollie Dame 1:55.1f ($284,223). Jollie Dame is a half-sister to Survivor Gold 1:51 ($897,929). Jollie Dame is the dam of fourteen foals for nine winners including Armbro Pegassus 1:51.3 ($412,467), Amber Blue Chip 1:51.3f ($187,135) and Armbro Vaudeville p2, 1:51.3 ($168,420). Armbro Blue Chip left Missombeach Blue 1:52.3f ($114,665). Jollie Dame is also the grand dam of many winners, the best of them Beignet 1:51s ($254,342)


The sire of the first three dams Artsplace, Cam Fella and Sonsam looks to have really influenced the breeding here as Artistic Vision has left two, two millionaires, Rock N Roll Heaven ($2,774,478) and Clear Vision ($1,999,052 - by the time you read this Clear Vision should have more than reached the $2 million mark) and Armbro Ophelia has left the full brother to Artistic Vision by Artsplace, Armbro Animate ($1,366,048). Very strong pedigree close up here and another interesting fact is that both the two millionaires Rock N Roll Heaven and Clear Vision are both by Western Hanover and his grand-son Rocknroll Hanover

Rock N Roll Heaven was sold as a yearling at the Lexington Select Sale in 2008 as lot 40 for $57,000. He was bought privately for $300,000 as a two-year-old just before racing commenced.


Rock N Roll Heaven had 30 lifetime starts for 20 wins 6 seconds and 2 thirds for $2,774,478 in stakes

As a two-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven had 9 starts for 4 wins 4 seconds and a third for $614,186 in stakes with a fastest time of 1:50.2m. His first stakes win came at just his third lifetime start in the $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes. The time of the mile was 1:54 flat with an impressive last quarter in 26.2. Behind Rock N Roll Heaven that day were Rockin Image 1:48.2 ($903,424), Foreign Officer ($780,803) and Tobago Cays.

Rock N Roll Heavens next start in a stakes race, was in the elimination of the $1,000,000 Metro Stakes. In this race he finished second, beaten by Malicious ($810,712). In the Final Rock N Roll Heaven was beaten again, this time by Sportswriter ($1,649,411) in 1:49.2, a world record at that time. Rock N Roll Heaven was given every possible chance to win following Sportswriter every step of the way but it was not to be on this day, Sportswriter was much the best.

Rock N Roll Heavens next two starts were in the 20th running of the $600,000 Governor's Cup, this time held at Harrah's Philadelphia, a five-eighths track. He won his elimination in 1:50.3 leading all the way, a world record that he held for just one week. He was beaten in the Final by One More Laugh ($2,627,108) in 1:49.2f taking nearly a full second off Rock N Roll Heaven's world record from the previous week. One More Laugh sat parked out while Rock N Roll Heaven had the perfect trip behind the leader but could not get by One More Laugh in the stretch.

Rock N Roll Heavens last start as a two-year-old was in the $139,000 Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile. He won leading all the way by four and a quarter lengths in 1:50.2 with a scintillating last quarter of 25.4. In the process he beat horses like We Will See ($2,553,948), Shoobee's Place ($787,271) who also came home in 25.4 (after meeting interference and giving the leader ten lengths at the half) and Art Professor ($584,624).

As a three-year-old Rock N Roll Heaven had 21 starts for 16 wins 2 seconds and 1 third for $2,160,292 in stakes. His first stakes race was in the $220,000 Berry's Creek at The Meadowlands. He ran third to Kyle Major ($671,816) in the elimination but won the Final in 1:52. He won his next two starts in the elimination and final of the $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes. He paced 1:48.3 in the Final.

Rock N Roll Heavens next start was in the $100,000 Burlington Stakes, regarded as the lead up to the North American Cup, where he made an uncharacteristic break after reaching the front at the half way point and finished well back.

Now it was on to the $1,500,000 North American Cup. In the elimination Rock N Roll Heaven drew out wide in post nine and left hard but was caught wide until the half when he got cover from Sportswriter until well into the straight then pulled out and just got home from Kyle Major and a very brave Sportswriter all finishing close up. The time was 1:48.4. In the Final Sportswriter was much the best winning in 1:48.3. Rock N Roll Heaven was given every chance and finished fourth.

On to the $1,000,000 Meadowlands Pace. Rock N Roll Heaven won the elimination leading every inch of the way in an unbelievable 1:47.3 wrapped up with John Campbell driving. In the Final Rock N Roll Heaven had a brutal trip to run second, wide and stung to the first quarter in 25.4, leading at the three- quarters in 1:20 flat, then in the last stride was caught a head by One More Laugh, driven by Tim Tetrick in 1:47.4.

2010 Meadowlands Pace Elimination - Rock N Roll Heaven & John Campbelle

He was beaten a head in the $115,500 Oliver Wendell Holmes by Rockin Image in 1:48.2 and then Rock N Roll Heaven was never beaten again. He became invincible, winning his last ten races straight. They included the $500,000 Battle Of Brandywine in 1:48.4, The Little Brown Jug in straight heats creating a two-heat world record in sub 1:50. They were 1:49.2 and 1:49.2. This was also a world record for a three-year-old on a half mile track.

The $500,000 Breeders Crown elimination 1:49.1 and final in 1:49 at Pocono Downs. In the Final, Rock N Roll Heaven showed the way to a blazing 1:19.4 three-quarters, the first time any horse racing on a five-eighths-mile track had ever gone sub 1:20. The final quarter was just a formality, with no serious challengers pressing Rock N Roll Heaven, who tripped the timer in 1:49 to win by 5 and a 1/2 lengths. "Rock N Roll Heaven is so handy," said trainer Bruce Saunders. "He is such a great horse, so tenacious. He can race first over, from the front or from behind. It is not the trainer who teaches him, but it is his pedigree -- a great sire." He beat Fred and Ginger ($1,054,244), We Will See ($2,553,948) and One More Laugh ($2,627,108) in that race.

Rock N Roll Heaven - 2010 Breeders Crown 3YO Colt Pace

The $111,500 Bluegrass Stakes in 1:48.2 and the $604,000 Tattersalls in 1:48.1 both at Lexington's The Red Mile, The $437,100 Messenger Stakes in 1:51.4 at Yonkers and the $181,913 Matron elimination and final both in 1:50.1.


Rock N Roll Heaven was a World Champion at two and three. In 2010 he was voted Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year, The Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. From the moment Sportswriter was off the scene after The Meadowlands Pace, Rock N Roll Heaven was unbeatable winning his last ten races straight and this gave him a high profile start as a stallion for his stud career. He was only four times further back than second in his race career. He was 26 times first or second and that was from just 30 starts. He paced 11 miles in better than 1:50 as a three-year-old, more than any other horse in history at the time of his retirement

Bruce Sanders on Rock N Roll Heaven

"It became apparent that the colts thriving on competition. He's a funny horse because you can tell he has that kind of ability by the way he handles himself on the track even though in training he really doesn't give forth that kind of effort. He doesn't throw on that switch until he gets behind the starting gate."

Rock N Roll Heaven's Storybook Season


First crop of 103 foals from 135 bred resulted in 46 colts and 57 fillies

With the season just getting into full swing Rock N Roll Heaven's progeny are already shown up with two fillies, Band Of Angels 1:52.2s ($84,433) and Sassa Hanover 1:52.2s ($83,933) each remain unbeaten with four starts for four wins. His five richest starters to date are fillies.

Rock N Roll Heaven has had 65 to the races with 16 race winners to date (9th August 2014) for stakes of $504,414

His second crop are now yearlings and they total 65 foals from 89 bred


Too early to make a genuine comment at this stage but at a service fee of $8,500 Rock N Roll Heaven will have to step up. He is currently eighth on the two-year-old sires list for North America and third behind Bettors Delight and Art Major on the New York sires list where he stands at stud. There are no reports of a superstar at this stage of the year by Rock N Roll Heaven but as I say it is far too early to make a judgement call.


Rock N Roll Heaven stood for $8,800 his first year at stud in Australia and bred 215 mares that resulted in 153 foals born. His second season he bred 186 mares for 128 foals born and in the 2013/2014 season just gone he bred 225 mares. His oldest progeny are now rising two-year-olds.


Rock N Roll Heaven bred 52 mares in his first crop in New Zealand that resulted in 37 foals born. His second crop he bred 31 mares for 20 live foals and his third crop he bred 41 mares that are currently ready to foal this 2014/2015 breeding season.


With the two-year-old racing in full swing in North America Rock N Roll Heaven is already off to a good start with his fillies showing up with two unbeaten fillies to date with 4 starts for 4 wins. Top five performers are all fillies. With big numbers bred in Australia and New Zealand combined at the high service fee of $8,800, Rock N Roll Heaven would have served the very best mares and that right there will give him a great advantage at stud down under.


The owners really threw Rock N Roll Heaven in the deep end by standing him in New York against two of the best in Art Major and Bettors Delight, making it that much harder for him to get established. It is too early to make any assumptions about the first crop of Rock N Roll Heaven but the high expectations of breeders after all the hype means if he doesn't produce a serious stakes winning colt or filly this year, then the knockers of Rock N Roll Heaven will crucify him, rightly or wrongly.


"Rock N Roll Heaven is so handy," said trainer Bruce Saunders. "He is such a great horse, so tenacious. He can race first over, from the front or from behind. It is not the trainer who teaches him, but it is his pedigree -- a great sire." Rock N Roll Heaven finished his career with an outstanding 10 race win streak. He is currently a world record holder with back to back sub 1:50 (1:49.2) miles at the Little Brown Jug set in 2010. He holds world records for a two-year-old on a 5/8 track - 1:50 and three-year-old on a half mile track - 1.49.4. Rock N Roll Heaven had many outstanding victories including the Breeders Crown, Tattersalls Pace, Battle of the Brandywine, and the Messenger Stakes. Any horse that can win $2,774,478 as a two and three-year-old is special and with-out any doubt Rock N Roll Heaven was that special horse and was the champion in 2010.

Overall rating - 6/10

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