07/17/2013 5:18PM

Northfield: A Rocknroll Dance aims for Battle of Lake Erie upset

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Barbara D. Livingston
A Rocknroll Dance won the Meadowlands Pace in 2012.

While all eyes will focus on all-time money-winner Foiled Again in the $120,500 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park on Saturday, A Rocknroll Dance comes into the race with an impressive résumé of his own.

A Rocknroll Dance posted a stellar 3-year-old campaign in which he captured the Meadowlands Pace, Max Hempt and Battle of the Brandywine. He earned $1,068,379 during his sophomore season despite only finding the winner’s circle four times in 22 starts.

As timely as A Rocknroll Dance’s wins were in 2012, this year has been the exact opposite. The Jim Mulinix trainee was plagued with outside posts in the $200,000 Dan Patch and $145,500 Molson which forced him to race from off the pace, something that has never been his forte. The trend continued despite drawing post one in the $184,000 Roll With Joe and after a talk with regular driver John Campbell, Mulinix knew it was time for a change.

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“John (Campbell) is as great a guy as anyone at setting up a trip for a horse and that’s why I wanted him, but things kept going wrong,” said Mulinix. “Going into the Haughton, John just didn’t seem that excited about driving him and I felt if he didn’t have the confidence in him it was time for a change.”

But the driver change wasn’t the only adjustment made by Mulinix. The trainer decided it was time to correct an issue with A Rocknroll Dance’s mouth that may have been bothering the son of Rocknroll Hanover.

“He had a little growth in his jaw right where the bit goes,” said Mulinix. “It was like a needle in there that was making him swell up. So we got that cut open and taken care of.”

After a few weeks off, A Rocknroll Dance clocked a swift qualifying mile at Hoosier Park in 1:50 4/5. Then he returned to the site of his biggest victory for the second time, attempting to qualify for the William Haughton Memorial final at the Meadowlands. He finished only seventh, but we saw a different A Rocknroll Dance on the track. He pressured the pace through a 52 3/5 half and 1:20 2/5 three quarter time that resulted in a 1:46 4/5 world record-tying mile. Despite the tough trip he only lost by five and a half lengths.

“He was off a few weeks and had to come first up. I was satisfied, but who would have thought you could go (1):47 and a piece and not make the final,” said Mulinix on the Haughton effort.

Continuing to show a resurgence, A Rocknroll Dance was at Hoosier Park again on July 13 and whipped a field of Winners Over horses in a 1:48 2/5 mile.

“I kind of thought they would race against him a little more, but it was kind of like a training mile,” said Mulinix, who has enlisted Scioto regular Kayne Kauffman to drive A Rocknroll Dance (4/1 morning line) from post 5.

Despite his form reversal, A Rocknroll Dance will have his work cut out for him against the aforementioned Foiled Again. Competing in his fifth Battle of Lake Erie, Foiled Again (2/1) hopes his string of odd-year wins continues. The son of Dragon Again, who starts from post two with Tony Hall in the bike, won in 2009 and 2011, and finished second last year.

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Foiled Again has earned $5,176,444 in his career and despite being 9-years-old, he leads the older pacing division with $550,460 in his bankroll this year. The Ron Burke-trained gelding has already won the $500,000 Ben Franklin at Pocono Downs on June 29.

Another with a clear shot at an upset is Aracache Hanover. Third in the 2012 edition, Aracache Hanover does his best work when near the lead and should take full advantage of his pylon post. He is listed as the 7-2 second choice.

Rounding out the field which features six millionaires is: Rockin Finish (post 3); Thinking Out Loud (post 4); Clear Vision (post 6); State Treasurer (post 7); Versado (post 8).

The Battle of Lake Erie is programmed as race 11 on the 14-race Northfield Park card. It anchors a $10,000 guaranteed pick four that starts in race 8. First race post time is 6:30 pm.