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Balmoral Park

Balmoral Park (6/4/09)

Contact: Tom Kelley
(708) 672-1414


Southern Rocketop
Brian Carpenter and Southern Rocketop made it look easy as they equalled Before He Cheats' track record for a three-year-old gelding trotter in Wednesday's $50,200 Cardinal Stake Final at Balmoral Park.
After early miscues took out three of the main contenders in Wednesday’s night’s $50,200 Cardinal Stake at Balmoral Park, the race figured to be a two-horse battle between division leader Southern Rocketop and the highly regarded Dr. McDreamy. In reality it was just another showcase for the top trotter as Claude Powers' Southern Rocketop equaled the track standard for a three-old gelding trotter with a 5 ¾ length romp in a blistering 1:53.3. That clocking equaled the fastest mile ever trotted by a three-year-old gelding at the Crete plant, which had been held by the great Before He Cheats, since November 20 of 2007. The time is also a National Seasons Best for a diagonally gaited sophomore gelding on a mile track.

In his latest triumph driver Brian Carpenter whisked the son of Psychic Spirit away from post position five, and with the gelding’s usual high turn of early speed he easily made the front as the field hit the quarter in a speedy 28.1.

Pressure was coming quickly however as driver-trainer Homer Hochstetler had Dr. McDreamy firing away from post position nine, and Carpenter wisely elected to let that colt go in order to avoid an early speed duel.

“Everybody thinks that my horse isn’t capable of sitting in a hole and relaxing after the way he raced last year,” said Carpenter. “That’s not the case this year as trainer “Bobby” Taylor has done an absolutely masterful job of getting this horse to relax whether he’s on the lead or sitting in a hole.”

Content to let Hochstetler and Dr. McDreamy carve out quick middle splits of 56.0 and 1:25.2, Carpenter had his charge to set to pounce as the field turned for home.

“I knew I had a ton of horse left and even though we were well ahead of the rest of the field I wasn’t going to take any chances with anything coming up on the outside of us,” Carpenter explained.

Southern Rocketop then exploded around the pace setting Mr. McDreamy, quickly opening up a 4 ½ length lead by the mid-stretch call. The issue was never in doubt from there as Carpenter “wrapped” up his charge while still managing to equal the track standard of the great Before He Cheats. Dr. McDreamy held on for second while Samuel Coe (Brandon Simpson) was a non-threatening third, 14 lengths behind the winner.

After the race both trainer and driver seemed to be in awe of the record-setting performance that their charge had produced.

“He’s an amazing animal and we’ve just stuck with our usual training program and he’s gotten better and better with each start,” marveled conditioner Taylor. “On a night like this with temperatures around 50 degrees and it being damp out I would never have thought he would go a mile like this!”

Driver Brian Carpenter, who has had the honor of sitting behind this amazing gelding for all of his starts, was equally impressed but just a little less surprised.

“Last year when he equaled the World Record down in Springfield I really thought he could have gone faster if I would have asked him to. I figured we would break the record the next start but when they are two-year-olds you never know how they are going to come back especially on short rest like that.”

After posting three straight victories against state-bred competition to open his sophomore season, plans now call for Southern Rocketop to head north of the border for the Goodtimes Eliminations at Mohawk on June 20.

“We’ll see how he does out there against some of the best in the country,” said Taylor. “He has a few races there for him and then we plan to come back to Illinois for some races here. After that we’ll hopefully be headed back to Canada for some of the 'biggies' back there.”

Sent off the heavy favorite, Southern Rocketop paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.20, increasing his record to 12 victories and one second in 17 career starts, with career earnings of almost $190,000.




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