In the days leading up to the 147th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby 2021 (G1), US Racing is profiling all the contenders. The 1 ¼-mile Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs is May 1 and is the first leg of the Triple Crown. All profiles will be updated with post positions, odds, and jockeys following the draw on Tuesday, April 27.
By Margaret Ransom
Rock Your World is an undefeated son of Candy Ride, who is owned by California powerhouse Hronis Racing in partnership with Talla Racing. He made his first main track start a winning one in the Santa Anita Derby after making his first two starts over the grass.
California-based runners have had the most recent success in the Kentucky Derby and six runners over the past decade (Authentic, Justify, Nyquist, American Pharoah, California Chrome and I’ll Have Another) all called Southern California tracks home before winning the Derby. Also, Exaggerator (2016), Firing Line (2015) and Bodemeister (2012) finished second after wintering in California, while Battle of Midway (2017) and Dortmund (2015) earned third place finishes under the Twin Spires after shipping into Louisville from the Golden State. Rock Your World will attempt to become the 20th horse overall to win both the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby 2021.
Trainer John Sadler, despite tremendous success and more than 2,600 wins from over 12,750 staters, has only sent out four horses in the Derby, including two in 2010. His best finisher was Corby, who was sixth in 1993.
“I’ve never won the Derby, but last time I was there we won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (in 2018 with Accelerate), so I’m looking forward to going back to Louisville.”
Rock Your World last week represented what was probably the first dose of Derby drama this year after his connections decided to replace Santa Anita Derby-winning jockey Umberto Rispoli with Joel Rosario, who has won hundreds of races for Sadler. Rosario was aboard Accelerate for Sadler’s first Breeders’ Cup victory (2018 Classic) and a number of other top runners, including Gift Box, Catalina Cruiser, Combatant, Flagstaff, Twirling Candy, Switch, Sidney’s Candy and many more.
“Let’s be very clear here, I was rooting for (Bob Baffert-trained) Concert Tour to win the Arkansas Derby (on April 10) and (then) this is all a non-conversation,” Sadler said on the Thoroughbred Los Angeles radio show. “We decided to wait until after the Concert Tour race to see what was gonna happen and nobody could’ve predicted that (a third-place finish), really. I mean, he was 1-5 or whatever and then he didn’t run on.
“So, when Joel came available … You know, these are agonizing decisions and not easy. I want to be very clear, I think the world of Rispoli, and I think the world of his riding. He’s a terrific rider on our circuit and he’s been a great addition to California and will continue to be. But I had to make a call, and this is the call I made. History will tell whether I’m right or wrong.”Rosario has ridden in the Kentucky Derby 2021 nine times and won aboard Orb in 2013.
On Saturday, April 17 at Santa Anita, Rock Your World worked 5 furlongs in 59.60 in company with stablemate Tripoli, who was posted in 1:00.20 for the same distance. Sadler said he plans to work Rock Your World one more time at Santa Anita, likely next Saturday, before shipping to Kentucky on April 26.
“I had him going a minute for 5 furlongs with Serapio Figueroa riding, in company with Tripoli,” Sadler said. “It was a pretty effortless work, just smooth and relaxed. I was very happy.”
Kentucky Derby 2021: Rock your World Horse Stats
Post position: TBD
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Owner: Hronis Racing (Pete and Kosta Hronis) and Talla Racing (Michael Talla)
Career record: 3-3-0-0
Career earnings: $546,600
Derby qualifying points: 100 (6th)
Top Equibase speed figure: 103
Pedigree: Candy Ride-Charm the Marker, by Empire Maker
Color: Dark bay or brown
Running style: Frontrunner
Notes: This colt comes from a long line of horses bred and/or owned by Hall of Fame conditioner Ron McAnally and his wife, Debbie. His dam, Charm the Maker, was a stakes winner and multiple graded stakes placed. His granddam and great granddam were also graded stakes winners and owned and bred by the McAnallys … Colt will be a first Derby starter for the partnership of owners Hronis Racing and Talla Racing … Rock Your World was a $650,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2019, with Sapphire Stable signing the sales slip, the moniker representing a partnership of bloodstock agent David Ingordo and Sadler.