John Campbell is again in the driver's seat with the horse to beat Saturday night in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace.
Campbell, harness racing's all-time leading driver with over $270 million in purse earnings, holds the stakes record with seven wins. He bids to extend that mark with Rock N Roll Heaven, the 5-2 favorite in the 10-horse field of 3-year-olds.
Rock N Roll Heaven won last week in 1:47 3/5, a record for a Pace elimination. The victory improved the colt's career mark to 10 for 18.
The three elimination winners earned the right to select their post positions for the final. OK Commander, who captured his elimination in 1:47 4/5, was scratched Wednesday before the draw due to an abscess in the right front leg. His spot in the final was taken by Delmarvalous.
That left Rock N Roll Heaven and Rockin Image, who took his elimination in 1:48 4/5, as the two remaining elimination winners entitled to select their starting spots. Rockin Image won the draw to decide who went first, and trainer Jimmy Takter picked No. 2 as 3-1 second choice.
Trainer Bruce Saunders let Campbell make the call for Rock N Roll Heaven and the Hall of Famer tabbed No. 3.
''It's the closest to Rockin Image,'' Campbell said. ''We don't want the rail where there is a chance you'll get shoved down in there, and not get a chance to race.''
With an inside post secured, Campbell is upbeat about his chances.
''He is a horse going into this sharp, off the best performance of his life,'' Campbell said. ''Going into a major stakes, that's all you can ask of a horse. I am certainly optimistic that he is going to race very well but this is a very competitive group.''
The other posts were determined by an open draw. Sportswriter got the worst of it, landing post No. 10 at 6-1. The champion 2-year-old pacer last year, Sportswriter won the $1.5 million North America Cup last month at Mohawk Raceway in Canada.
The full field, in post position order, with odds: Kyle Manor, 15-1; Rockin Image, 3-1; Rock N Roll Heaven, 5-2; Valentino, 15-1; I'm Gorgeous, 12-1; Delmarvalous, 12-1; Nova Artist, 15-1; One More Laugh, 9/2; Fred And Ginger, 10-1 and Sportswriter, 6-1.