01/15/2015 5:56PM

Meadowlands: Rockeyed Optimist coming into his own for Elliott

Lisa Photo
Rockeyed Optimist has won three straight starts by a combined 12-plus lengths.

Rarely in this sport is there a straight line path to success. Even the best of horses had bumps in the road before reaching the top. Trainer Steve Elliott could have a budding star in Rockeyed Optimist, a four-year-old that may have just needed time to reach his potential.

“From early last year he never looked good physically. His coat was bad. I thought he was bleeding so we put him on Lasix,” said Steve Elliott. “We decided to give him some time off. There was no reason to continue and we thought with the New Jersey bonuses at the Meadowlands that would be a great time to race him.”

Rockeyed Optimist will look for his fifth win in his last six starts in Saturday’s seventh race B-1 event at the Meadowlands. The son of Rocknroll Hanover, a $10,000 no-bid buyback as a yearling, has blossomed for Elliott and steps on the racetrack this week after a career best 1:50 clocking a week ago.

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“He keeps surprising me,” said Elliott. “Last year we thought he was just a closer, but the last few starts he’s been doing it on the front end.”

Indeed Rockeyed Optimist, a full brother to 2010 New Jersey Classic winner B Gs Folly, has looked imposing in his most recent outings taking the lead and drawing off from some decent fields.

“I think Tim (Tetrick) is perfect for this horse and I hope he stays with him,” said Elliott. “This horse likes to have the bit in his mouth and I think he’s become more relaxed because of the way Tim handles him.”

Rockeyed Optimist will certainly get tested on Saturday night, perhaps more so than he’s been throughout the Meadowlands meet. The field has some solid veteran performers including three sons of the late Rocknroll Hanover. Sweet Rock, the winner in last year’s New Jersey Classic, has been competitive in each start at the B-1 level despite racing with older horses. He landed post seven. Long Live Rock, an iron tough six-year-old has already won in this class and Rockin Wizard has been on the board in all four Meadowlands starts, but will need to overcome post ten.

Rock Out is another New Jersey-sired horse brought back for this meet by Elliott. Also by Rocknroll Hanover, the gelding drew post two in Saturday’s nitecap (race 13) with Andy Miller in tow.

“That was his first start back and I thought he raced well,” said Elliott, referring to the second-place finish after cutting the action last Saturday night.

“I think he’s a horse that has all the tools to be a good one, he just hasn’t put it all together yet,” said Elliott of Rock Out.

Rock Out earned $53,435 as a three-year-old in a season that ended in August, with the owners and trainer looking ahead to the Meadowlands for a winter campaign with bonus money.

Rock Out showed plenty of potential during his sophomore year winning four times with a mark of 1:50 3/5 taken at the Meadowlands. On Saturday he’ll be the lone four-year-old in a field of veteran campaigners with age, experience and class edges. Outrageous Art takes his second straight drop in class for the Ron Burke stable and drew the pole position. The eight-year-old could awaken for driver Yannick Gingras. The field also includes $1.1 million winner Nob Hill High (post five) as well as the $850K winner Sparky Mark (post nine).

Elliott’s Autobiographical faces a solid field in the second leg of the Escort series, race 11 on the program. The four-year-old by Art Major didn’t have much of a shot in the first leg.

“We got him in the barn on Tuesday and he raced on Saturday,” said Elliott. “He got shuffled back and really had no shot. That may have been a blessing.”

Autobiographical drew post three in a field that includes first round winner What I Believe (post five).

A winner four times in nine starts as a three-year-old, Autobiographical is a half-brother to Beach Memories, one of the favorites in Saturday’s $30,000 featured second race.

It’s been a busy time of year for Elliott, who splits his time between his New Jersey racing stable and his Florida stable of two-year-olds. The former trainer of star stallions Donato Hanover and Well Said has also gone through some aches and pains over the years. On Friday he’s opting for knee surgery and like his horses doesn’t expect to miss much time.