Jimmy Jerkens knew he had a talented colt in Devon Rock, but
wasn’t sure if the 3-year-old son of Rock Hard Ten would prove best on the dirt
or the turf. The trainer received an empathetic answer on Saturday when Devon
Rock kicked away to a 2 ¼-length victory in a one-mile turf event at Belmont Park. The New York Watch page for Devon
Rock is located at http://www.nyra.com/nywatch/DevonRock.html.
Devon Rock was purchased by Centennial Farms for $440,000 at
the 2009 Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale (video
of his pre-sale workout) and trained at Palm Meadows in Florida, where he posted 12 workouts,
including a 1:00 five-furlong drill on the turf on March 14. Jerkens elected to
have the sophomore debut in a one-mile over the Belmont main track on April 30,
and the colt finished third, 7 ¼ lengths behind fellow New York Watch subject Christmas for Liam.
“He worked really well on [the turf] in Florida, but we wanted to give him some
experience on the dirt, too,” said Jerkens. “He worked well enough to probably
win on the dirt. He’s not one of those horses that absolutely has to run on the
Nevertheless, Devon Rock was switched to the turf for his
second outing. Part of a coupled entry that was backed as the 5-2 second
choice, he pressed favored Avenging Spirit through a half in a moderate 47.52,
asserted control at the quarter pole, and drew clear under left-handed urging
to stop the clock in 1:34.81.
“We were confident today because we thought he’d like the
grass even better,” said Jerkens. “He has a lot of talent – I think he’ll be
Jerkens doesn’t know when Devon Rock will race next,
although a jump directly into stakes competition is possible. One thing is for
certain: the dark bay will remain on the grass.
Although Devon Rock’s sire Rock Hard Ten is best known for
winning the 2005 Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap on the dirt, his grandsire, Kris
S., is a notable turf influence. Devon Rock’s second dam, Peruvian champion La
Chaposa, produced the 1995 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap winner You and I, who
like Rock Hard Ten is a son of Kris S. La Chaposa is also the dam of the 1995
Grade 1 Test and 1996 Grade 1 Ballerina winner Chaposa Springs.
Many of the industry’s brightest stars embarked upon their
careers at the NYRA tracks, including a number of recent Triple Crown race
winners. Super Saver, Big Brown, Jazil, Birdstone, Funny Cide, and Empire Maker
are all among the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont
Stakes victors that kick-started their careers at Aqueduct, Belmont Park,
The list also includes recent champions Gio Ponti and
Indian Blessing; brilliant fillies Flashing, Little Belle, and Music
Note; and the current top older male Quality
Road, who has won three Grade 1 races so far in
his career, including this year’s Metropolitan Handicap.