06/03/2012 8:48AM

Harness: Pet Rock and Time to Roll win North America Cup preps

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Mike Lizzi
With Brian Sears in the bike, Pet Rock wins the $306,204 Art Rooney at Yonkers over Bolt the Duer

The richest race in harness racing, the $1.5 million North America Cup, is primed to be a truly international event following the results this past Saturday night.

With eliminations slated on June 9 at Mohawk, the top colts were in action and surprises were the norm south of the border. Pet Rock and Time To Roll, two sons of leading sire Rocknroll Hanover, captured the $306,204 Art Rooney at Yonkers and the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes at Meadowlands, respectively.

Pet Rock, third choice in a field of six in the Rooney, lacked experience over the half-mile track coming in to the race, but looked like a seasoned veteran by race end. With Brian Sears in the bike, Pet Rock blasted out sharply from post four and managed a seat directly behind odds-on favorite Bolt The Duer. The favorite clicked off a solid opening quarter of 27 1/5 but was rated kindly to the half in 55 4/5.

Second choice Hurrikane Kingcole was also making his first half-mile track appearance and that’s probably why every turn was an adventure. The son of Cams Card Shark, fresh off a sub 1:50 effort a week ago, moved to the outside to challenge at the half but had trouble steering the third turn. Driver Tim Tetrick got him going but remained parked outside the leader as Bolt The Duer accelerated with an individual 27 1/5 third quarter.

On the final turn Bolt The Duer attempted to separate himself from the field but Pet Rock and Sears were never that far behind. In the stretch Pet Rock used the passing lane perfectly and rolled by the favorite to score in a track and stakes-record 1:51 mile.

Bolt The Duer finished second but is not eligible for the North America Cup. Third place finisher Hurrikane Kingcole was rather impressive in defeat considering his problem with turns and will go next to Canada.

Frank Bellino owns Pet Rock. Bellino is the owner of 2010 Horse of the Year Rock N Roll Heaven.

At the Meadowlands even-money favorite A Rocknroll Dance appeared to have things set up perfectly for driver Yannick Gingras in the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final. After leaving the gate with purpose the pilot tucked third briefly before advancing to the front past second-choice I Fought Dalaw. With reasonable early fractions of 27 2/5 and 55 2/5 the pace seemed ideal for the colt to notch his second straight sophomore victory.

Gingras allowed his charge to pace a 27 1/5 third quarter while keeping the first over challenge of Time To Roll at bay and locking his rival I Fought Dalaw in the two-hole.

In midstretch Gingras’ posture changed, as his horse appeared to be getting weary. Driver Dave Miller had trouble keeping his horse I Fought Dalaw from coming out of the hole and he appeared to strike the wheel of the pacesetter forcing Time To Roll to check briefly. Once clear of trouble Time To Roll and driver Andy Miller did just that. The lightly raced colt powered on strongly and nipped the pacesetter on the wire by a nose.

Jimmy Takter trains the winner who scored a personal best 1:50 mile. Takter also sent out third-place finisher Simply Business. Both colts are heading north to Mohawk.

Lothlorien (Susan Grange) owns and bred Time To Roll. The stable also shared ownership in North America Cup winners Rocknroll Hanover (2005) and Well Said (2009).

At Mohawk Racetrack on Saturday, two divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere were contested with $100,000 purses.

Secretsoftheknight, an 8-1 shot made two moves to the lead during a driving rainstorm and was never threatened scoring in 1:52 over the soggy surface. Doug McNair drove the son of Mach Three to his second win of the season. The colt had previously won an elimination of the Upper Canada Cup at Georgian Downs.

Secretsoftheknight defeated Thinking Out Loud, the favorite, who lacked the same firepower he showed in winning his first three sophomore starts with ease. The two are both North America Cup eligible.

Trainer Casie Coleman will be after her second North America Cup in three years with Michaels Power. The Camluck-sired horse won his fourth straight race without defeat in an impressive 1:51 1/5 mile for regular pilot Scott Zeron. Dapper Dude edged Hillbilly Hanover for the place spot.

The top three finishers are among 42 remaining eligible for the North America Cup. The entry box closes Tuesday for the June 9 elimination races with the final slated for June 16.