01/06/2016 12:00AM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Rock Fall


Rock Fall ran fast, was tenacious, and gave his best every time he was led to the gate during his undefeated 4-year-old season. Those qualities have made him an Eclipse Award finalist in the 2015 male sprinter category.

Tragically, Rock Fall had to be euthanized on Oct. 10 after being injured just past the wire of a Keeneland workout while being prepared for the Twin Spires Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He would have been among the favorites in that race.

Rock Fall’s record speaks volumes about his ability. In eight starts over two seasons – all at six furlongs – he won seven times while earning $749,180. He was a perfect 5 for 5 in 2015. In his final two races, he won the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga.

Rock Fall was a son of Speightstown, the champion sprinter of 2004, and the first foal of the Medaglia d’Oro mare Renda, who won two stakes and was Grade 2-placed. Rock Fall was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock and purchased by the Stonestreet Stables of Barbara Banke for $250,000 at the 2012 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings.

Rock Fall was trained throughout his career by Todd Pletcher, who also conditioned Speightstown. Less than two weeks prior to Rock Fall’s fatal accident, an agreement was reached for him to join his sire as a stallion at WinStar Farm in 2016.

Rock Fall’s lone defeat came in his career debut when he finished eighth at Gulfstream Park in April 2014. When he returned a month later at Belmont Park, Javier Castellano would take over as his rider and partner with Rock Fall the remainder of his career. First came a maiden victory, then a June allowance win before Rock Fall was given the rest of the year off.

Rock Fall began 2015 with a pair of optional-claiming victories, the first at Gulfstream in March and the second at Keeneland in April. He would go on to win the Grade 2 True North at Belmont in June prior to scoring his Grade 1 victories. His final time in all three races was below 1:09, with his lifetime best Beyer Speed Figure of 110 coming in the True North.

“He had the rare ability to stalk very fast fractions and then produce a strong turn of foot in the last quarter-mile,” Pletcher said.

Arguably, Rock Fall’s signature race came in the six-furlong Vanderbilt. With Favorite Tale on the lead, he moved up outside second-place runner The Big Beast nearing the eighth pole. The Big Beast and Rock Fall passed Favorite Tale in midstretch and were locked in battle to the wire with Rock Fall putting his nose down at the right moment.

Rock Fall would win a thriller in his finale too, putting away a stubborn Stallwalkin’ Dude in deep stretch of the Vosburgh and then holding off Salutos Amigos by a neck.

Speed, toughness, and consistency. Rock Fall put it all on display for us in 2015.