06/18/2011 12:52AM

Meese Rocks 5/14/05 - 6/1/11

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MEESE ROCKS - 2005 bay mare by Rock and Roll - Meeses Pieces, by Grindstone.   Bred by Robert W. Misa, Jr.  Owned by Henry, Joseph and Jamie Terranova.  Trained by Edward R. Barker.  Race record:  22 starts, 9 wins, 6 seconds, 2 thirds.  $443,410.  Won the Iroquois, Union Avenue, Broadway, Personal Girl.  Second or third in the Fleet Indian, Anniron, Garland of Roses, Interborough, Correction.

By the time I began watching Meese Rocks, at Saratoga last summer, she was 5. The sweet-faced beauty had 6 wins by then, but her lone stakes victory was a $60,000 state-bred stakes. And while I’d photographed her trainer, Eddie Barker, in many winner’s circles, I rarely stopped by his barn.

Jason Garcia told me about Meese Rocks early one morning as he sat aboard the red-bay daughter of Rock and Roll. I say ‘early’ because Meese Rocks often went out in the first set. For much of the meet, she was on-track before the sunrise.

Eddie escorted his mare to the track daily, quietly following behind as she marched dutifully to her task. I occasionally spoke with him as he watched her gallop past. His pride in her was obvious.

Meese Rocks trained powerfully with an unusual self-assurance. One morning, she was a near runaway with jockey Jorge Chavez aboard. Soon thereafter, she won Saratoga’s Union Avenue Stakes by more than 6 lengths.

I was impressed by just how beautifully she was prepared for the race. Her groom must have spent hours rubbing her coat and braiding her mane. Her connections in the paddock watched her with admiration and pride. Eddie was dressed in a sharp coat and tie as he tended to her. And when Meese Rocks bounced back to the winner’s circle, there were proud smiles all around.

After the race, I read in Saratoga Special that Meese Rocks was owned by a wonderfully enthusiastic trio, Henry Terranova and his sons Joe and Jamie. She was their first purchase. Not bad.

Meese Rocks won her third stakes in December. Her stakes placings added up, too. I was happy to see her turn up in Laurel’s G2 Barbara Fritchie in February where, although she finished 4th – beaten 10 lengths – she sported, by far, the best winter haircut.

The unusually consistent mare returned to New York where, at Aqueduct, she won her fourth stakes – the Broadway, on the Gotham undercard March 5. Afterward, Eddie announced Meese Rocks would get some time off.

“She has a lot of heart, this filly, I’ll tell you that,” Eddie said. “I love her.”

He said they’d probably give her 60-90 days off and bring her back at the end of Belmont or the beginning of Saratoga.

It was not to be.

Three months later, in a heartfelt blog, her owners announced her death from laminitis. Meese Rocks had done all that she could for them during her career. When she came down with a hock infection they returned the favor, trying their best to save her. In time, however, they knew it was best to let her go.

Their blog ends with a simple line beneath a beautiful photo of their bay pride and joy standing in her stall – her stall webbing marked with “Eddie B”. Just looking at the photo makes my eyes well with tears. I can’t imagine what it does to them.

Meese Rocks 5/14/05 - 6/1/11

Above:  Eddie Barker puts the final touches on Meese Rocks before the Union Avenue at Saratoga on August 23, 2010.

Above and below:  Meese Rocks at Laurel Park for the G2 Barbara Fritchie on February 19, 2011. 

Above and below:  Meese Rocks at Saratoga, 2010.

Above:  Jason Garcia and Meese Rocks at Saratoga, 2010.  Below, Jorge Chavez and Meese Rocks at Saratoga, 2010.  Chavez rode Meese Rocks in 14 of her 22 starts.

Above:  Meese Rocks, her regular rider Jorge Chavez aboard, powers home in the Union Avenue at Saratoga, August 23, 2010.

Above:  Meese Rocks in the Aqueduct paddock before the Broadway Stakes, March 5, 2011. Below:  Meese Rocks wins the Broadway on March 5, 2011.  Junior Alvarado is aboard.

Above:  Even set against the Aqueduct casino construction backdrop, Meese Rocks' beauty - and her groom and trainer's pride - shines through.

Above:  Loving pats all around for Meese Rocks in the Broadway winner's circle.  Below, Meese Rocks leaves the winner's circle for the last time.

The Terranovas' farewell to Meese Rocks: terranovaracingstable.blogspot.com/2011/06/meese-rocks.html

The Saratoga Special article, 8/24/10, about the Terranovas and Meese Rocks: www.st-publishing.com/cms2/index.php/the-special-mainmenu-76/17-saratoga-news/1535-cup-of-coffee-father-a-sons

Meese Rocks, showing her typical determination, winning the Broadway:  www.youtube.com/watch

Pam Clingensmith More than 1 year ago
I loved this horse. Knew she was a winner as soon as I saw her walk on the buckle during a post parade, without a care in the world. Lost track of her, and just googled her name to see what became of her. How sad I was to see that she had passed. I bet she would have made a wonderful show horse too. Rest in peace.
alex johnson More than 1 year ago
Thank you Stevn Crist and DRF for publishing these wonderful photo essays. Many players also take great interest in the stories of the animals and their humans.
Damian Cioni More than 1 year ago
Terranova Racing Stable, I would like to wish you my condolences on the loss of your princess Meese Rocks. She was a fantastic race horse and a true champion. I know your heart has a hole in it a mile wide and hopefully as time passes all the memories you have of her will help ease the pain. Barbara has captured her beauty, athleticism and all the joy her running brought to your team. Being in the business as part of FLS, I got the pleasure of seeing Meese Rocks up close and personal, it was a pleasure. Every time I looked at the entries to see who we were racing against and I saw Meese Rocks I knew it was going to be a battle to the wire. She was a special horse and she truly will be missed by all horse racing fans. My best wishes to you guys. Barbara, Thank you for capturing the beauty and grace of Meese Rocks in pictures. Your talent is truly second to none. What a magnificent horse and a true champion. I enjoyed watching her race even when she bested R Betty.
Robert Hutt More than 1 year ago
Dear Joe & Family: Thank you for the kind words about Betty. Our love for Betty is no different than your love for Meese Rocks. She was a GREAT mare and all of us at Fantasy Lane Stable respected her very much. Your trainer Ed Barker is an exceptional man and trainer. It was Ed who taught me about the Ragozin Sheets many, many years ago. As you know all too well now, the racing game has the highest of highs, as well, as the lowest of lows. Meese Rocks passing is one of those lows. My late best friend trainer Alan Seewald passed away without warning in April 2010 while training Triple Crown contender Uptowncharlybrown. He had been searching for a horse like him all his life. The Lord had other plans. Alan always told me, that in this game, you always have to keep an even keel as it can be very humbling. I know the pain you all feel. Please keep in your heart that Meese Rocks was born to run. And she did it better than most horses. She was a champion! May she run free for all eternity in the House of The Lord. Our deepest condolences to all. Bob Hutt Managing Partner FLS
John Popovich More than 1 year ago
To the Terranova's: I wish to extend our/my heartfelt condolences to your family and stable. “Meese” was a hard-knocking race mare who personified class. I am honored to have watched her run up close and personal. I know the pain you are feeling and grieve with you as well. Remember always the pleasure and joy she gave you, as well as race fans across the country. It was what she was born to do. She will live for eternity in your hearts. I am sorry for your loss. Benevolently, John Popovich Partner, Fantasy Lane Stable
Janet Oken More than 1 year ago
Barbara, I don't know you but I am Henry's sister and Jaime and Joey's Aunt. I was only honored to watch her race on TV since I live in Arizona but when she ran, it was a beautiful thing to see. We are on our way out to NY tomorrow. We were very excited to go to the barn with the guys to see Meese and the other horses. Unfortunately, we will have to just remember Meese as she ran her beautiful races. Thank you so much for a beautiful tribute to her. She seemed to "Rock" a lot of people in and out of the industry. God bless, Janet Oken
Sue R-CT More than 1 year ago
Like many of the readers, I was not familiar with Meese Rocks, but I know about her now. The love that her family had for her, from her braided mane to her striking winter coat. Thank you for sharing this lovley lady's story with us. I wish this fairytale would have had happy ever after ever.
Mitchell G More than 1 year ago
My heart goes out to the horse and everyone close to her. She brought her "A" game to the races with each and every start. I will miss Meese Rocks.
Linda More than 1 year ago
Lovely story and wonderful pictures. A short life well lived.
ed p More than 1 year ago
The owners should be proud of her career. You should be proud of your photos. Great care was taken in both.