Rock Your World

For a time in the spring of 2021, he might have been considered the "now" horse in Southern California's three-year-old division.

After his first two victories, he took on a big class test while answering a question about whether he could handle a dirt surface.

He passed both assignments with aplomb. And while he never found that level of success after that period in his career, this Candy Ride colt managed to become a Grade I winner in the Southland like his father had years earlier.

A new year meant the beginning of Rock Your World's career at the start of 2021. Debuting at Santa Anita, he tracked the pace closely before taking over and winning handily on the turf while sprinting. That effort moved him up to the stakes ranks, where he employed the same tactics going long to win the Pasadena Stakes at the end of February.

In just two appearances, it looked like Rock Your World might have the look of a budding star on turf. A graded stakes race was in his future, as everyone later found out. But it would not be on the grass.

Trainer John Sadler and co-owners Hronis Racing and Talla Racing opted to send Rock Your World to the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on the main track. Definitely an ambitious spot, the question handicappers grappled with was whether Rock Your World could handle the main surface while taking another leap in class. His sire had won on the dirt previously, so perhaps Rock Your World had a chance over it, going by the pedigree.

By the end of the Santa Anita Derby, Rock Your World had proven his backers right. Getting to the lead early, he allowed no one to pass him as he emerged the clear winner of Southern California's most important Kentucky Derby prep race. A few weeks earlier, Rock Your World became a minor stakes winner. Now, he was a Grade I winner and one of the Southland's top Kentucky Derby horses. And he was bred for the Derby distance of a mile and one-quarter, for Candy Ride won the Pacific Classic at that distance in 2003.

But when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, a horse needs both talent and some luck. And Rock Your World did not have any luck under the Twin Spires. He endured a rough beginning and was taken out of his game. Rather than be in early contention, Rock Your World never got involved and finished seventeenth in a tough outing. Redemption was attempted in the Belmont Stakes, but the mile and one-half distance and early fractions that were quick for such a marathon event was too much for him. After finishing sixth in third leg of the Triple Crown, Rock Your World went on vacation.

Almost three months after the Belmont, Rock Your World was back in California. His return race was the Shared Belief Stakes, which functioned as a Santa Anita Derby rematch between Rock Your World and Medina Spirit. They finished one-two again, only this time Rock Your World was the runner-up to Medina Spirit. But the colt still ran well in his first start since the Belmont.

Next for Rock Your World came a return to turf. Back on the Santa Anita lawn, he was entered in the Grade II Twilight Derby at the autumn meet. Getting back to a course that had been good to him did not go as hoped, however. After getting the lead, Rock Your World set a moderate tempo until the far turn, getting passed and eventually fading to the back of the pack in what later became the closing race of his career.

The second half of Rock Your World's career contrasted greatly with the first half. But in that initial phase of his time at the races, Rock Your World showed his talent.

He won on both dirt and turf, and did so sprinting and routing as well. He could find the winner's circle after tracking the pace or getting the early lead. In fact, he showed what he could do in just a handful of starts.

As far as 2021 is concerned, Rock Your World was for a time part of the upper echelon in the three-year-old division. It will never be known whether he could have done more if he raced longer.

But he did well for himself over a period of just a couple of months, and he joined his father as a Grade I winner in the Southland. Not too shabby given the brief time frame he worked with.

Given his versatility, perhaps Rock Your World will become a good sire and give his offspring the ability to sprint and route, or to win with different running styles.

Whether he becomes a success in the breeding shed will not be known for a while. But what is known is that Rock Your World earned his status as one of Southern California's top colts during the 2021 season.

Entry added December 29, 2021. AF