Rockcrest takes them all the way in the Pink Lloyd under Keveh Nicholls (Michael Burns)
By Chris Lomon – Woodbine Communications
Rockcrest, sent off at 6-1 in the six-furlong Tapeta race for Ontario-sired 4-year-olds and up, got away quickly and took his 10 rivals through early splits of :23.46 and :45.53. Keveh Nicholls and the 6-year-old son of Old Forester (Pink Lloyd’s sire) then opened up a sizable advantage at the top of the stretch and easily fended off 6-5 choice Candy Overload for the two-length win.
The final time was 1:09.68.
Candy Overload, Last American Exit, Reload’s Rascal, Miss Speedy, Mason’s Gamble, Poseidon Steel, Dun Drum, Forester’s Fortune, Secret Reserve and Bossy Holiday rounded out the field. Commander Joe and Maakwa were scratched.
“Once he left there running, he got the lead easy,” said Nicholls, who celebrated his first Woodbine stakes win. “There was no one around to really pressure. He was really relaxed, and I was smiling from there.”
Owned and trained by Nigel Burke, Rockcrest, who won a 5 ½-furlong Tapeta race on April 29 prior to the Pink Lloyd, is now 6-5-0 from 25 starts.
“The feeling is indescribable because he makes me feel like I could compete with the big boys being from a small operation,” said an emotional Burke, who saddled Rockcrest to victory in the 2019 Simcoe Stakes. “As you saw, he puts his heart out on the table all the time and that’s all I could ask of him. I did promise that if I ever made it across again to this green horseshoe – you guys gave me a lot of credit for Rockcrest – that I would thank Dylan Dunn, his exercise rider, who has done a tremendous job with him. His groom, Brian, too. You couldn’t ask for a better team behind him. It’s a team thing.”
Bred by Northern Dawn Stables, the gelding was a $13,170 (U.S.) purchase at the 2018 CTHS (Ontario Division) Canadian-bred Yearling Sale.
Rockcrest paid $14.80 for the win.
The race, previously known as the Ontario Jockey Club Stakes, is named after one of Canada’s greatest all-time sprinters. Bred in Ontario in 2012, sprint superstar Pink Lloyd won 29 of 38 starts and earned $2.4 million (CDN) under the tutelage of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Robert Tiller.
Bred by John Carey and owned by Entourage Stable, Jr., Pink Lloyd was recently inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Following his retirement from the track, his connections donated him to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society, where he continues to be a popular draw with racing fans who visit their farm.