Horseracing

Queen's Plate Hope Rock Again Runs in Trial

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(from track report)
Stronach Stables' 3-year-old homebred colt Rock Again, by champion Awesome Again, the 1997 Queen's Plate and 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner out of the mare Track Gal, who competed in two Breeders' Cup Sprints, has some large shoes shoes to fill.

On Saturday, trainer Malcolm Pierce should find out whether Rock Again is ready to try those shoes on when he goes postward in the $162,600 Plate Trial Stakes at Woodbine.

Gus Schickedanz's Mobil, winner of the Queenston Stakes in his seasonal debut May 3, will likely be the post time favorite. Rock Again is certain to be well backed in, arguably, the most important prep race for the June 22 Queen's Plate.

Rock Again, a dark bay colt has won two of his three starts this yearafter just a single outing in 2002. He comes into the 1 1/8-mile Trial on a two-race win streak, a maiden victory March 1 at Gulfstream Park followed by a romp in an allowance contest at Woodbine April 26.

"We've always liked him. He's acted like he's a good horse," said Pierce. "He acts like he's got gears. He's a horse that cruises along at a high rate of speed and then you ask him for a little more and he's got another gear. He's been quite a nice colt. I think you can do anything you want with thishorse."

About the only trouble Rock Again has encountered in his brief career is keeping the same jockey. He's had a different rider in each of his four starts - Ray Sabourin, Pat Day, Jose Santos and Todd Kabel. For the Trial, he'll have another new pilot, U.S.-based Eibar Coa. Kabel is committed to Mobil for trainer Mike Keogh.

Rock Again appears to be training well for his first stakes race. He worked five furlongs in 59 seconds flat on May 18, followed by a five-eighths move in a minute flat last Sunday.

"I've worked him with an older horse (El General) the last couple of times just to get something out of it," Pierce said. "He works very well. He got a little tired in his last work, which hopefully is what we need to run a mile and an eighthwith 126 pounds."

It's far too early for any comparisons to his illustrious father, though, who captured the Plate in only his third career start, then scored his biggest win the following year in the Breeders' Cup Classic over perhaps the finest field ever assembled.

"He's not a very big horse, but the people that were around Awesome Again say he's a lot like his father. He's a stocky little guy, very powerful. He's a very nice horse to be around, easy to train. We're keeping our fingers crossed."

With Rock Again drawing post five, the rest of the field lines up this way: Sonofawac (post 1, jockey Jim McKnight, trainer Layne Giliforte), Brighton Ridge (2, Rob Landry, Todd Pletcher), Peef (3, Constant Montpellier, Rita Schnitzler), Solihull (4, Dino Luciani, David Bell), Mobil (6, Todd Kabel, Mike Keogh).

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