05/31/2012 7:48AM

Hoosier Park: Special T Rocks gets class test in Dan Patch

Lisa Photo
Special T Rocks has earned almost $200,000 this year going into the Dan Patch.

Special T Rocks is the under-the-radar superstar of 2012. He has yet to win or even participate in a stakes race with a purse above $75,000, yet the 4-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover has amassed $199,750 in earnings this year and beaten some of the best older pacers in the nation.

On Saturday, Special T Rocks will travel far from his Delaware home with his co-owner/trainer/driver Daryl Bier at the helm of the truck for the 10 to 11 hour drive to Hoosier Park in Indiana for the $200,000 Dan Patch for older pacers. The gelding will attempt to win the biggest race of his career and greatly increase his yearly earnings in the process.

“I won a couple of opens at Philly and they didn’t want to let him race anymore," said Bier, who will make his first trip to Hoosier Park. "They told me I had to wait for better horses like We Will See and others to show up. We were running out of places to race when I saw the Dan Patch. I asked Ron Burke about it and he called (race secretary) Kevin Mack and told him I was interested.”

Bier thought he had a good horse, but a 1:48 3/5 winning mile at Pocono Downs on May 5 really boosted the stock of Special T Rocks, whom Bier purchased for just $75,000 in March 2011.

Rocks followed his spectacular mile with what looks like a sixth-place clunker at the Meadowlands on May 19 against some seasoned stakes foes including We Will See.

“There was a concert going on that really freaked him out,” said Bier. “There was confetti floating around and he was scared to death. He wouldn’t go to the gate.”

Next up was another date at the Meadowlands with We Will See and another top pacer from last year Bettor Sweet. The outcome was much different this time around as Special T Rocks split foes in the lane and stormed to the front in the shadow of the wire to post a 1:49 2/5 victory.

“I was very lucky to find room late," said Bier, who admits to watching the replay of that race about 12 times. "I was loaded with pace and had no room to go. At the beginning of the year I never thought he would be able to go with (We Will See) and Bettor Sweet.”

While Special T Rocks has beaten some of the best pacers in training, he will have to tackle Golden Receiver, who leads North America in earnings this year and has won 9 of 11 starts, in the Dan Patch on Saturday.

“I think Golden Receiver is susceptible,” said Bier. “He has had a couple of weeks off and hasn’t raced since the Graduate. It is hard to keep these guys sharp at this level when you have missed time.

“With the right trip my horse can beat anyone right now,” said Bier, who was expecting to be aggressive behind Special T Rocks on Saturday. “We are going to get the money.”

Should Special T Rocks get the cash things will come full circle for co-owner Forrest Bartlett, who owned Forrest Skipper, a winner of the $100,000 Dan Patch at Canterbury Downs back in 1986.

If Rocks does not come away with a convincing victory, his future schedule will be very much up in the air. Bier did not nominate his stable star to any top races this year and he is on the fence about reaching into his pocket for the $25,000 to $75,000 it would cost to gain entry into some of the remaining top races for older pacers. Though, Bier has no plans to call it a season and wait for next year with Special T Rocks.

“When he shows me he’s tired, we’ll quit with him. Until then I’ll just keep going,” said Bier, who mentioned receiving at least two offers for Rocks so far this year. “I’ll stake him to everything next year, but I still think he has a couple of good months left in him. I want to stretch him out and prepare him for next year.”

The Dan Patch (race 12) will be a true test for Special T Rocks. Eight foes stand in the way of his first major stakes win. If he succeeds, his career record will stand at an amazing 22 wins in 44 races. Those are numbers reminiscent of the great Dan Patch himself.


Watch and Wager on Saturday's Hoosier Park Card