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Is Schoolofhardrocks a chip off the old “Rock”?

Rock Hard Ten Lanes End 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Ed Van Meter

It seems like only yesterday, but it was in 2004, when a huge dark bay 3-year-old named Rock Hard Ten was all the buzz in southern California. He was destined to start in the Kentucky Derby, but lacked the graded stakes earnings to crack the Top 20 of would-be Derby starters.

Shut out of the Derby, Rock Hard Ten was runner-up to Derby winner Smarty Jones in the Preakness stakes, and finished his career with 7 victories from 11 starts. He was a perfect 6 for 6 on the Santa Anita natural dirt oval.

Fast forward ten years. There is similar buzz on the Santa Anita backside about Schoolofhardrocks, a son of Rock Hard Ten is expected to make his sophomore debut on Saturday in the $300,000 G2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. A victory here would be a tall task for a colt making just his second lifetime start, especially when it comes 6 months after his initial start.

Private Clocker/Bloodstock Agent Gary Young appeared on HRTV this past Sunday to discuss some of the west coast based Derby contenders scheduled to start in the San Felipe Stakes. While he sang the praises of Midnight Hawk’s maturity, he added a few comments about Schoolofhardrocks. Young used phrases such as “he’s a beast”, “trained like a wild horse” and “enormous horse with an enormous stride” in describing the son of Rock Hard Ten.

Here’s the video evidence of Schoolofhardrocks maiden victory at Del Mar on Aug. 31st, making a huge Zenyetta-like move…

As of this writing, the San Felipe Stakes has nine (9) potential starters.

POST UPDATED on Wednesday (Mar. 5) 12:30pm PST AFTER POST POSITIONS WERE DRAWN. Initially, Sawyer's Hill was not considered a potential starter based on circulated reports early in the week.

#1 - Home Run Kitten (30-1) A. Quinonez / D. Hofmans
A non-threatening 5th in Bob Lewis; should go the synthetic or turf route instead of in here.

#2 - Unstoppable Colby (20-1) L. Saez / D. W. Lukas
Gate-to-wire MSW winner @ OP in 5th start; guess there was space on the plane bringing Will Take Charge in for The Big ‘Cap?!

#3 - Rprettyboyfloyd (15-1) C. Nakatani / D. Breuer
Probably most talented 3-race maiden in the country; 2nd to Bayern and Chelios then 3rd in San Vicente 3 weeks ago; will benefit from stretching out to two-turns.

#4 - California Chrome (5-2) V. Espinoza / A. Sherman
Keeps improving with every race; not your typical CA-bred.

#5 - Sawyer's Hill (30-1) M. Garcia / K. Mulhall
Still a maiden but well backed (5-2) in both starts when 3rd in debut @ Dmr and again on Jan. 26 @ SA running behind Chelios and Rprettyboyfloyd.

#6 - Bayern (9-5) G. Stevens / B. Baffert
An impressive 2 for 2; made Tap It Rich look like a Claimer in 15 length romp last out.

#7 - Kristo (6-1) J. Rosario / J. Sadler
Hung tough against Midnight Hawk in Sham Stakes; Rosario in irons will generate an underlay.

#8 - Schoolofhardrocks (10-1) J. Talamo / D. Hofmans
Away since debut win in Aug @ Dmr; Reportedly has been a beast in the A.M. and work tab confirms it.

#9 - Midnight Hawk (3-1) M. Smith / B. Baffert
Disappointing 3rd as PT favorite in Bob Lewis OR are Candy Boy and Chitu just that good?

#10 - Recanted (30-1) M. Gutierrez / D. O’Neill
Recent import from across the pond tried 6½ downhill course unsuccessfully in U.S. bow; would be initial natural dirt start; a Reddam “shot-in-the-dark” type.

Note: Listed odds are probable Morning Line based on all nine being entered. 

Which of these would you be looking (and/or wagering on) to get to the Santa Anita Winners’ Circle on Saturday?


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Older Comments about Is Schoolofhardrocks a chip off the old “Rock”? ...

Bayern. Gotta believe in that. I'll take the super-chalk.
Post updated with SAN FELIPE Satakes Post Positions!!!
Midnight Hawk, Bayern, Unstoppable Colby.
  • marylandgq · Mark, if we're talking about "WHO WILL WIN the Derby", I'll assume you don't care that it's been 131 years since the Derby winner was unraced as a 2-yr-old? · 1356 days ago
Reason, I totally agree with your concerns. I’ve made a couple of posts about this guy lately and stated that my greatest concern, other than whatever issues he had that kept him away for so long, is his turf breeding. There is often a close relation between running abilities on synthetic tracks and turf and Schoolofhardrocks broke his maiden on Del Mar synthetics so other than his works, he still has to prove that he can run with top horses on dirt……I have no doubt about his class as the day he won his MSW, he ran faster and better than New Year’s Day, who won the other MSW that day when defeating Candy Boy and Bond Holder……Schoolofhardrock’s sire, Hard Rock Ten, was a top dirt horse, but he had a strong dirt pedigree on his dam side. The question with Schoolofhardrocks is the turf influence from his dam’s side as his dam, Miss Chapin, is much more heavily influenced by turf, and her best offspring to date, Royal Fury, was campaigned mainly of turf and on Woodbine’s polytrak. I’m hoping that School will take to dirt, which he seems to be doing at least in his works on Santa Anita’s main track. As for dirt kick back, I would think that there is a reasonable amount of kickback on synthetic tracks so hopefully that won’t be an issue either. If it turns out he is a turf horse, it should be interesting given his size and explosive closing style……And he is a big gorgeous looking dude isn’t he. A lot like his father.
LAZ might hate me for saying this, but from a pedigree perspective the only reason I don't already have Schoolofhardrocks in my Sweet Sixteen or Derby Dozen or whatever is that grassy blood. It wouldn't be any big deal if he had won first out on something other than polytrack (and he didn't necessarily "run like a turf horse" or anything), but with Kris S. on top and Royal Academy on the bottom, I guess I'll once agan be the doubting Thomas who insists on seeing the proof. His bullet works on dirt are very encouraging though. It's a whole lot easier to root for horses like Schoolofhardrocks to become superstars when they're already such gorgeous lookers!
Finally and what a tough race to make his 2014 debut in what will be one of the deepest Derby preps so far this year. He has only the one start and this will be his first race on conventional dirt, but he has been working lights out on Santa Anita dirt since the beginning of the year. Hopefully we won’t see one of those speed biased tracks that seem to haunt some tracks on big race days.
Very nice turn of foot on Schoolofhardrocks. I think it's either Bayern or him. Can't wait to see.
If School,Bayern and Chrome run here along with the others.This is definately the #1 prep to date.
I'm goin to stick with Claiornia Chrome he is on the upswing and his last was very impressive we will see....
Be better to see My man Byrne.But since that now looks like a longshot.I will settle for Art "ALLIE" Sherman.
Interesting possibility with Schoolofhardrocks in the San Felipe plus I like the name!
Would be great to see David Hofmans in the KD winner's circle.
looking forward to seeing how Schoolofhardrocks runs in San Felipe.

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                Meet Gary Quill

  I am the most passionate person on the planet when it comes to thoroughbred horse racing! One sunny summer day in 1964 at Timonium Race Track is where my Dad and mentor introduced me to “The Sport of Kings”. Since that day, I have had the pleasure to visit over 40 different tracks across North America. Though an IT professional by trade, I’ve had a part-time gig with the Maryland Jockey Club since 1988.

here are thousands of rail-birds who claim to be great handicappers. Well, I don’t claim to be the best… just the most passionate and one that won’t tout “chalk”. Like a savvy stock broker, I look for value and often find it. Unlike the talking heads on horse racing television networks and the dozens of websites featuring handicapper’s opinions, I’m ACCOUNTABLE. That is, good or bad, you’ll always know how my previously posted picks performed along with a running record of my BEST BET and LONGSHOT Play of the Day selections for Maryland tracks (Laurel and Pimlico) at TheRacingBiz, see "The GQ Approach".

   In addition to focusing on the Maryland thoroughbred racing circuit, each year I follow the Derby Trail and post “GQ’s Derby Double Dozen” in early February. 

   My personal mission is to rejuvenate interest in thoroughbred horse racing. Being able to share my energy, thoughts and opinions on this sport via HRN will certainly help the cause.


"I lost $2 at Santa Anita and I've spent $3 million trying to get it back." - Mickey Rooney

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