08/29/2012 10:48PM

Tioga: A Rocknroll Dance clicking on all cylinders for Cane Pace

Ken Weingartner
A Rocknroll Dance is the likely favorite in the Cane Pace on Spet. 3

For the first several races of the year, driver Yannick Gingras and star 3-year-old colt pacer A Rocknroll Dance seemed to have difficulty getting in rhythm. Since the end of June, though, the two have been in step with each other.

A Rocknroll Dance heads to Monday’s $322,716 Cane Pace having won the $500,000 Battle of the Brandywine in his most recent outing, August 19, at Harrah’s Philadelphia. He also has won the $600,000 Meadowlands Pace and $300,000 Max Hempt Memorial, in addition to a memorable second-place effort in the $500,000 Delvin Miller Adios, during his last six starts.

Prior to the Hempt final, on June 30 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, A Rocknroll Dance had one win in five races.

"Early in the year, I don’t think he was a hundred percent, and I don’t think I was a hundred percent,” Gingras said. “We were both off a little bit. I wasn’t giving him the best trips and he wasn’t able to overcome it like he is now. We’re on the same page now. I think I’m driving him better, for sure, and he’s on top of his game.

“He definitely got better as the year went on, but I think there is even more room to improve. He’s confident now.”

The Cane Pace is the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. The second is the Little Brown Jug on September 20 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio and the third is the Messenger Stakes on November 10. Ten pacers have won the Triple Crown, most recently No Pan Intended in 2003.

“It’s in my mind,” Gingras said about winning the Triple Crown. “Those are all great races to win, that’s for sure.”

A Rocknroll Dance, owned by the A RockNRoll Dance Stable and trained by Jim Mulinix, has won four of 11 races this year and earned $901,425. He received a bye to the Cane Pace final, as did Time To Roll, based on earnings. For his career, A Rocknroll Dance has won 11 of 22 starts and accumulated $1.76 million.

In the Battle of the Brandywine, A Rocknroll Dance won in a track-record 1:48 1/5 off a three-week rest.

“I think he raced great,” Gingras said. “Jim knows what he’s doing. He gave him a couple weeks off and had him sharp. The race kind of set up for him, but he was loaded with pace.”

Prior to his layoff, A Rocknroll Dance competed for nine consecutive weeks, culminating with his second-place finish to Bolt The Duer in the Adios at The Meadows in western Pennsylvania. A Rocknroll Dance was tested on the lead throughout the race while setting historic fractions, helping lead to a 1:47 4/5 world-record mile.

“He got beat, but I think that’s when he earned a lot of people’s respect,” Gingras said. “When I called on him in the stretch, he was still digging. To me, that was his best race. He was good at Philly, but that, to me, is when he separated himself a little bit, even though he got beat.”

The Cane Pace will provide another tough task for A Rocknroll Dance. Leading the challengers is Heston Blue Chip, who won last Sunday’s single elimination by 2-3/4 lengths over Steelhead Hanover in 1:49 2/5. Heston Blue Chip, trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick, has won nine of 10 races this year, with his only setback being a fourth-place finish in the Meadowlands Pace. Owner Ken Jacobs paid $35,000 to supplement the colt to the race.

Rounding out the nine-horse field are Bettor’s Edge, Dynamic Youth, Pet Rock, Simply Business, and State Treasurer. The draw for the Cane Pace will be Friday.

“Post position is going to play a big factor,” Gingras said. “There is no doubt in my mind (A Rocknroll Dance) is the horse to beat every time he goes behind the gate now. I think he’s taken a step above the rest of them, but you still have to show up. There are four or five horses in that race that can win it. Whoever gets the best trip is probably going to win it.”