07/15/2012 9:03AM

Meadowlands: A Rocknroll Dance takes control in Meadowlands Pace

Barbara D. Livingston
A Rocknroll Dance, with Yannick Gingras driving, wins the Meadowlands Pace by 1 1/2 lengths on Saturday night.

You simply cannot predict how a race will unfold. With a stacked field lined up for the 2012 Meadowlands Pace, lead changes and a live outer flow were expected but never developed. Instead, driver Yannick Gingras capped off a big night at the Meadowlands by practically wiring the field with A Rocknroll Dance and capturing the $600,000 final in 1:48 1/5.

It was 102-1 longshot Allstar Legend that gunned off the wings of the gate and took the early lead before Gingras brushed A Rocknroll Dance to the front past the quarter in 26 4/5 seconds. Thinking Out Loud, who took heavy tote action and surprisingly went off the 2-1 favorite, found some early speed of his own and ducked in third.

Passing the half in 54 2/5, A Rocknroll Dance was still the boss as the outside flow was slow to develop. Thinking Out Loud edged off the pylons at that point and was followed by a host of pursuers on the rim. Pet Rock, Heston Blue Chip, Sweet Lou, and Bolt The Duer were all stacked up in the dull flow as Thinking Out Loud failed to make a bid.

“At the half, once I saw 54 2/5, I said come and catch me if you can,” Gingras said. “I didn’t want to overdrive him in the third quarter, but I wanted to keep it honest where if someone was going to get close to me, they were going to have to pace fast to get there.”

The three-quarter time came on the board at an honest 1:21 2/5, and Gingras still saw few challengers to threaten his first Meadowlands Pace score. He went to work asking A Rocknroll Dance for more, and the colt responded nicely.

“I knew I was home free,” Gingras said. “It was the greatest feeling ever.”

At the wire, it was all A Rocknroll Dance by 1 1/2 lengths. Pet Rock grinded out a second -place finish, and Allstar Legend took home third.
Obviously, the trip and the race flow worked in his favor, but Yannick felt a bike change made much of the difference.

Trainer Jim Mulinix “trusted me about the bike, and I really believe it made a difference tonight,”  Gingras said. “All of these horses are wearing it; it’s a speed bike. I’ve been trying for a long time to change the bike. Jim didn’t believe in it. Last week I told him, ‘Jim, which race do you want to win the most?’ He said the Little Brown Jug, and I said, ‘Well this is my race.’ I told him, ‘You need to trust me; this bike is going to make a difference.’ ”

At the very least, the bike did not hurt, and A Rocknroll Dance provided some closure for Gingras, who felt he cost himself the Meadowlands Pace in 2004 when he finished second with the favored Timesareachanging.

“Everyone knows how I feel about this race,” said Gingras, who also won a division of the Stanley Dancer with Little Brown Fox, which should ensure him a chance to drive in the Meadowlands’s marquee event, the $1.5 million Hambletonian on Aug. 4. “It got away from me seven or eight years ago, and to be able to come back and win tonight was very, very sweet.”

A Rocknroll Dance, who also won the $300,000 Hempt final at Pocono Downs in June, was a $15,000 Harrisburg purchase by Mulinix and Denny Miller, who now also share ownership with Diamond Creek Farm LLC and J&T Silva Stables.

Mulinix recalled the sale and telling Miller that he really wanted to buy something before he retired. With A Rocknroll Dance’s sire Rocknroll Hanover being a hot commodity, Mulinix was unsure if he would get the colt, but it worked out and everything fell into place.

“Right from the start, I had confidence,” said Mulinix, who was thankful he had a partner to help him handle the nearly $18,000 worth of stakes payments.

The victory pushed A Rocknroll Dance’s career earnings to $1,377,250 and likely stamped him as the favorite to capture the next big dance for 3-year-old pacers, the Adios at the Meadows.

“We’ve run a lot of straight weeks,” Mulinix said. “I’d like to go next week to the Meadows for the Adios. He’s been feeling good.”

Should Mulinix test the waters and race A Rocknroll Dance for the eighth straight week, he will likely have to tackle many of the same foes he faced tonight.

Judging by recent his performances, that should not be a problem.