03/18/2013 2:49PM

Harness Racing: Rocknroll Hanover remembered


My deepest memories of harness racing go back to the early 1990’s. But in some ways 2005 was really the start of my journey in the sport. That was my first full year in charge of Harness Eye. It was my first opportunity to cover major races like the Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian. Coincidentally, it was also the year which Rocknroll Hanover dominated the harness world.

For that reason, Rocknroll Hanover, who had to be euthanized on Thursday due to a gastric impaction, will always hold a special place in my heart. My headline for the 2005 Horse of the Year edition of Harness Eye read, ‘ROCKIN’ THE HARNESS WORLD (you can view the cover on our facebook page). He did that and more.

Here are the opening paragraphs from that feature:

Can you hear the music? The music played in Canada at Woodbine and Mohawk. The sound of his thundering hooves could be heard in Kentucky at The Red Mile. But, those of you who live in the Garden State were truly treated to a concert. The gifted son of Western Ideal played a quick set at Freehold and gave five encores at The Meadowlands en route to becoming one of the richest single season performers of all time.

Rocknroll Hanover is Harness Eye’s Horse of the Year for reasons exceeding his amazing monetary accomplishments or his stellar record of never being off the board. What captures the “eye” of this publication is his endurance. The powerful pacer appeared just as strong winning the Breeders Crown in November as he did taking the New Jersey Classic way back in May.

From the grandstand and behind my computer, I got to live the journey with Rocknroll Hanover. It started with a NJSS victory to begin the year and culminated in the Breeders Crown; 12 wins, $2,223,257 earned. It was a great ride. I could hardly have found a better horse to guide me through my first stakes season.

Rocknroll Hanover would go on to bigger and better things in the breeding shed; providing me numerous sons and daughters to write about over the last few years. The most memorable being Rock N Roll Heaven, who I had the pleasure of viewing  at the Meadowlands, Chester, Pocono and Yonkers on his way to vaulting the ‘Rocknroll’ name and clinching Horse of the Year honors in 2010.

So, to a horse that helped mold me as a writer and will continue to deliver countless talented standardbreds to the track via his progeny, thank you for the memories and rest in peace.


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bertha More than 1 year ago
Sam McKee said on meadowlands pace night as he was reaching the wire "Rock and roll is here to stay" and Sam was right as he will always be remembered through his great sons and daughters.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Growing up in SoCal, I started following thoroughbred racing in 1989. When I moved to Michigan in 1999, I was deprived of close access to thoroughbred racing. I started making trips within a 10 hour drive to see big thoroughbred events, but opportunities were limited. It took 5 years before I realized that there was horse racing going on all around me; it just happened to be harness racing. I started following the local Michigan and Ontario(Windsor) harness scene, and would even make trips up to Toronto for big harness events. One of my trips to Toronto was for the 2005 North America Cup. I was shocked to see Woodbine more packed than I saw it for Woodbine Mile or Canadian International days. I remember thinking that harness is much bigger in this region than I had supposed; I mean people were really into the racing that night, especially the $1.5 million NA Cup. The star of that night was Rocknroll Hanover. There was even a guy dressed as Elvis going around crooning the word "Rocknroll". Rocknroll Hanover was the big name going in, and he delivered a wow performance, opening up going into the stretch before coasting to the wire, the final margin not reflective of his true dominance. I had been to the 04' Breeder's Crown at Woodbine when in Toronto for the Canadian International the next day, but the 05' NA Cup and Rocknroll Hanover was the race and horse that cemented my passion for harness racing. Back in SoCal now, I am not able to see any harness racing in person, but I watch the simulcasts with fond memories(even of the sub-0 nights at Northville in January).
BornFunny More than 1 year ago
nice post jordan
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Thanks, I appreciate the nice words.