Indiana champions head east for Crown eliminations

At 0h04, on October 23, 2021 By Ken Weingartner, USTA

A summer vacation looks to have agreed with Rockin Nola.

The 5-year-old female pacer, who last week captured an Indiana Sire Stakes championship for the fourth consecutive year, heads to Saturday afternoon’s single Breeders Crown Mare Pace elimination at The Meadowlands with four wins and two seconds in six starts since a respite spanning from mid-July to mid-August.

She brings a three-race win streak to New Jersey’s Big M, which is only her second trip outside of Indiana in her 63-start career. The daughter of Rockin Image-Gottogetoutmore has won 30 times, hit the board a total of 50, and earned $727,007 since being purchased by trainer Joe Putnam for $15,000 under the name Go More Rosey at the 2017 Hoosier Classic Yearling Sale.

“She’s been a blessing; pretty incredible, pretty special,” Putnam said. “She very rarely goes a bad race. We gave her a month off in the heart of the summer when it was hot and since then she’s been in really, really good form.

“Other than the long-distance traveling for the first time, you never know how they’re going to react to that, I expect her to be just fine (Saturday). She’s coming into the race in great form. We think she will be competitive.”

In Saturday’s $25,000 elimination, Rockin Nola will start from post six and is the 5-1 third choice on the morning line. Lyons Sentinel, the sport’s No. 1-ranked horse, is the 2-1 favorite while Rocknificent is 4-1. The field also includes 5-year-old Warrawee Ubeaut, a Breeders Crown champion at ages 2 and 3, as well as Peaky Sneaky, who won last year’s final for 3-year-old female pacers.

The top seven elimination finishers will join the bye recipients Drama Act, Racine Bell, and So Much More in the $330,000 final Oct. 30. The elimination winner will draw for post one through five for the final. The remaining finalists will participate in an open draw for their starting spots.

Racing begins at noon Saturday at The Meadowlands. In addition to the elimination for the Mare Pace, the card includes Breeders Crown elims for all 3-year-old events as well as the Open Pace and Mare Trot. Eliminations were unnecessary for the Open Trot.

Rockin Nola competed in last year’s Breeders Crown Mare Pace, held at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and finished sixth. It was the Crown debut for Putnam, as well as for his son, Joey, who is Rockin Nola’s regular driver.

“She was having a little bit of feet issues last year, not to make any excuses, but she raced respectable even though she finished sixth,” Putnam said. “In our minds, we thought if she came back good and had a good season, it was something we might try again.

“So, here we are.”

Rockin Nola, owned by Putnam’s and John Johnson’s J P Racing and Linda Cox’s Suttons Bay Racing, has won nine of 19 races this season. On Aug. 21, her first start back from her vacation, she won the fillies-and-mares open at Harrah’s Hoosier Park and equaled the track record for a pacing mare, 1:48.4, which was set by Kissin In The Sand in last year’s Breeders Crown Mare Pace.

A week later, Mystical Carrie lowered the record to 1:48.3 when she defeated Rockin Nola by a quarter-length. Last week, Rockin Nola just missed the mark while winning her Indiana championship by 1-3/4 lengths, stopping the timer in 1:48.4.

“She loves to race, she knows when it’s race day, and she does her work really well,” Putnam said. “She’s just a special horse that way. She takes care of herself; she’s just been a professional from day one. She always shows up and gives her all. I think that’s the true definition of a champion-type horse. They always come to play every week.”

Rockin Nola is not the only Indiana champion heading east for the Breeders Crown. Shirley Goodness will compete in the second of two $25,000 eliminations for 3-year-old female trotters. Shirley Goodness won her ISS Super Final last week in 1:53.3, giving her a three-race win streak as she heads to The Meadowlands.

For the season, the daughter of Swan For All-Stirling Debutant has won five of 12 races and $229,825 for owners Bill Beechy, Brad Maxwell, and Kenneth Frieder. Melanie Wrenn trains the filly, who is usually driven by Peter Wrenn but will have David Miller subbing in the sulky for Saturday’s elimination.

“She deserves the shot to go after the last couple weeks,” Peter Wrenn said. “She’s come around to herself. We’ll see how it works out for us. I think she will go along good at The Meadowlands. She’s sharp and she’s got a lot of heart.”

Wrenn said Shirley Goodness battled some health issues during the summer.

“She just wasn’t herself, she just wasn’t firing,” Wrenn said. “We came to find out that she had some allergies and a little sickness and bled a little bit. So, we gave her a couple weeks off, and that was the turning point. She got healed up, we put her on Lasix, and she turned the corner and went under the wire strong.”

Hambletonian Oaks winner Bella Bellini is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in the second elimination for 3-year-old female trotters. Altar is the 3-1 choice in the first, with $62,500 supplement Katie’s Lucky Day, who won the Kentucky Filly Futurity, at 7-2. The field also includes returning Breeders Crown champ Lady Chaos.


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