06/11/2014 5:35PM

Marks: Here come the babies

Ken Weingartner/USTA Photo
Zip Code Entry is a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven who won her first qualifying race in 1:59 4/5 at the Meadowlands.

Here come the 2-year-olds.  Baby races are being scheduled just about everywhere accompanied by the anxiety of, “Is this colt or filly as good as it has looked thus far in training?”

Actually, most of the anxiety focuses on the first crop sires as by now we all have a pretty good idea where the established or “proven” sires stand in terms of performance levels.

However, for those who stand and those who have purchased sons and daughters of first crop stallions, there’s always a level of uncertainty until the baby races begin. Thus it’s crunch time for the first croppers. 

This year, the leading first crop sires include pacers Rock N Roll Heaven, Sportswriter, Rockin Image and Riggins, plus trotters Lucky Chucky, Muscle Massive and Holiday Road. Of those, pacers Rock N Roll Heaven, Sportswriter, Rockin Image and Riggins have started well both in volume number of starts and winners, while trotters Muscle Massive and Holiday Road have starters and winners.  Lucky Chucky has starters but as of this writing nary a winner.

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Rock N Roll Heaven (Rocknroll Hanover-Artistic Vision)  would be considered the most prominent of the first crop stallion candidates off his spectacular Horse of the Year season in 2010 when he won just about every major stake on the calendar for 3-year-old pacers. Moreover, he was part of a spectacular inaugural siring season for his own now deceased sire Rocknroll Hanover in a crop that also included the champion filly Put On A Show.

Actually early success has been a byword for this sire line as Rock N Roll Heaven’s sire, grandsire Western Ideal, great-grandsire Western Hanover, and great-great-grandsire No Nukes were all sensational in their initial crops. Whether Rock N Roll Heaven will maintain this tradition remains to be seen.  However, the impressive early showings of daughters suggest we’re watching a major sire in the making.               

So far, 15 of the 103 listed Rock N Roll Heaven 2-year-olds have started, resulting in five winners including Divine Caroline (Loving Caroline), an impressive 1:56 4/5 winner at The Meadowlands on Saturday June 7.

Rock N Roll Heaven stands at Blue Chip Farms in New York.

Rockin Image (Rocknroll Hanover-Kikikatie), another member Rocknroll Hanover’s initial crop, is demonstrating noticeable volume as 23 of his 107 listed foals have started resulting in six winners thus far. Rockin Image was a near million dollar winner, taking a mark of 1:48 2/5 as a 3-year-old.  His dam, Kikikatie, may be the most successful million dollar-winning broodmare of all time getting five major stakes performers from her first five foals.

Rockin Image stands at Victory Hill Farms in Indiana and thus far most of his starters have been at Midwestern tracks.

Sportswriter (Artsplace-Precious Beauty) was the 2-year-old champion of 2009 and a North America Cup winner in 2010.  He’s a three-quarter brother to last year’s filly champion Precocious Beauty and his reputation as an early speed sire precedes him as his initial crop sired Down Under have performed well in Australia and New Zealand.

Sportswriter is credited with 13 starters from his first North American crop of 154 and to date has four winners, all of them in his home base of Canada.

Sportswriter stands at Tara Hills stud in Ontario.

Then there’s Riggins (Art Major-Towners Image), a well-remembered winner of $948,000 who has a listed crop of 22 Delaware eligible 2-year-olds this year of which two have started and one—Smoking Joey—is already a winner in 1:56 3/5 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Riggins did not stand in the Northern Hemisphere in 2014 and is on his way to being the fourth successful Art Major-siring son behind Santanna Blue Chip, Art Official and Major In Art.

Holiday Road, a Yankee Glide full brother to the already successful Ken Warkentin, was the fastest 2-year-old of 2009, setting that mark in the Peter Haughton memorial on Hambletonian day.

With a 2-year-old crop of 80, Holiday Road has accounted for five starters and two winners thus far this year, all of them in his home province of Ontario.

Holiday Road stands at Seelster Farms in Canada.  

Lucky Chucky (1:50 4/5), by the ill-fated Windsong’s  Legacy from the Muscles Yankee mare Aerobics, was the Dan Patch champion both years he raced at ages 2 and 3.

The Lucky Chuckys were very well received at last year’s yearling auctions, averaging over $40,000 for 66 yearlings sold, including $450,000 for Mr. Lucky Luke the colt from Graceful Touch. Lucky Chucky has managed a half-dozen starters from his entire crop numbering 84 and as of this writing has not accounted for a winner.

Lucky Chucky stands at Winbak Farms in New York.

Muscle Massive, a Muscles Yankee full brother to the successful Canadian sire Muscle Mass, narrowly defeated the above mentioned Lucky Chucky in the 2010 Hambletonian earning over $1.2 million in the process.

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Muscle Massive has 10 starters from his 2-year-old crop, numbering 85 and resulting in two winners as of this writing.

Needless to say, it’s too early to formulate definitive conclusions, although my early thoughts lean to Rock N Roll Heaven being on the threshold of becoming a major success.  Even though his number of starters is fewer than that of Rockin Image at this point, his “winners” have really been visually impressive with four of the five winners earning sub 2:00 debut clocking in morning action.

This coming weekend we will see a larger number of baby races at all the outposts, including 16 at The Meadowlands.

It will be interesting to check those results as well and perhaps revisit next month.