06/08/2012 5:09PM

Tioga Downs: Patience pays off with Bettor's Delight contender Rockincam


Steve Farrell had a plan for Rockincam. It required patience, but if the horse’s results this year are any indication, it was worth the wait.

Farrell bred and owns Rockincam, a son of Cambest out of the mare Migraine. He didn’t race Rockincam as a 2-year-old, raced him lightly at 3, and bumped him up to the opens at 4. The goal was to develop a stakes-caliber horse at the age of 5.

Last weekend, the 5-year-old Rockincam won the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park. On Sunday, he returns to action in the $182,000 Bettor’s Delight for older pacers at Tioga Downs.

For the season, Rockincam has won four of six starts and earned $154,200. Lifetime, he has 19 victories in 34 races and $497,975 in purses.

“This is an unbelievable journey right now,” said Farrell, who lives in Ocala, Florida. “He was beating decent horses at the end of last year and I thought we had a shot with him to go with the big guys if he matured a little more. He’s really stepped up. I’d like to race him for a few more years and enjoy this kind of a trip.”

Farrell raced Rockincam’s grand dam, Meredith’s Dream. She won 14 times in her career – all after turning 4. The first foal out of Migraine, a full-brother to Rockincam named Francam, earned $250,204 of his lifetime $296,277 during his ages 4-through-6 seasons. He won the Exit 16W Series in 2005.

“I’ve raced that whole family,” Farrell said. “When I was training (Rockincam) down with Warren Harp, I knew he had a lot of speed. I thought he was as good as any 2-year-old I had, but when I raced Francam as a 2-year-old I regretted it because he got hurt. I didn’t want to hurt this horse. Warren agreed.

“Cambests all get better when they get older,” he added. “I just waited on him. That was sort of the game plan from the start. I was very happy with him as a 3-year-old. As a 4-year-old, I didn’t stake him to anything, and that was intentional too. We were just waiting for the 5-year-old year.”

Rockincam won six of seven races at 3, with his only setback being a second-place finish in the Kentucky Sire Stakes championship. At 4, he won nine of 21 races, including his final three starts of the campaign, all in the open handicap at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Farrell was impressed with how Rockincam matured over the winter when he drove him to a 1:51 qualifier win at Spring Garden Ranch in Florida in late March.

“He’s much stronger than he was last year,” Farrell said. “The day I qualified him in (1):51, I was ultra-impressed. I was on cruise control. I was like, ‘Wow,’ this is a special dude. I always thought he was special, but that proved it to me. I’m thrilled to death this all worked out.”

Trained by Richard “Nifty” Norman, Rockincam made his first stakes start this season in the Graduate elimination at the Meadowlands. With David Miller in the sulky, he used a first-over move on the backstretch to defeat Golden Receiver by 1-1/4 lengths in a career-best 1:48 1/5. Foiled Again was third.

“I’m still in shock how he won that,” Farrell said. “To have Golden Receiver on top and (Rockincam) first up and Foiled Again right on his back; I couldn’t talk for 15 minutes after that race. It was unbelievable.”

Rockincam finished sixth in the final, four lengths behind winner Golden Receiver, but Farrell believes the horse’s schedule – it was his fifth consecutive week of racing – was to blame.

“That’s tough,” Farrell said. “I usually like to go only three weeks and then give them a week off. I think we went just one start too many. But he bounced back. The Dan Patch was a good weekend, too.”

After a three-week rest, Rockincam won the Dan Patch at odds of 10-1 with Peter Wrenn at the lines.

“Every time we’ve given him some time off he’s bounced back,” Farrell said. “He loves to race. His whole family has loved to race.”

Rockincam is staked to many of the major races this year, including the William Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Winbak Farm Pace and Allerage.

“It’s such a thrill to see one like him born and raised in the backyard,” Farrell said. “It’s unbelievable.

“We’re going to dance the big dances and hopefully we’ll keep going.”