Rockin Nola, the 2021 Older Pacing Mare of the Year in Indiana, made her 2022 debut in qualifying action Saturday, March 19 at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The six-year-old Rockin Image mare was impressive in her first recorded trip, winning by seven and one-half lengths.
Starting from post four, Rockin Nola and driver Joey Putnam left for the lead, but had to put in a few extra strides on the outside as Fools Desire and Koltin Noble had the advantage at the quarter in :29.4. Cheek Please and Brandon Bates were on the outside and cleared to the lead, giving Rockin Nola the green light to head to the lead and settle in before the half in :58.2. From there, her dominance began to show. The pacing mare was on top by three at the top of the stretch as she pulled away from the field with a :27.4 final panel to win in 1:54.4. Cheek Please finished second over Vel Donna and Trace Tetrick, who moved up late for third.
Rockin Nola is owned by JP Racing LLC and Suttons Bay Racing. Mahlon Lambright is the breeder on the mare, who won 12 of 24 starts last season en route to the year end title. Overall, she has 33 career wins in 68 career starts with more than $764,000 in career earnings to kick off her six-year-old campaign. Her career best time of 1:48.4 was taken last year at Harrah’s Hoosier Park.
Also turning in an impressive qualifier on the card was another champion from last season Swingforthefences, who won his second straight qualifier for 2022 for his new connections of Trainer Jeff Cullipher and the Ownership combination of Pollack Racing and Cullipher. Swingforthefences is prepping for his four-year-old campaign with more than $682,000 in earnings and a mark of 1:52.1 taken last year at three. The Swan for All gelding was a gate to wire winner in his qualifier, turning in a time of 1:55.4 with Trace Tetrick in the bike. His final panel was trotted in :27.4 for the win by seven and three-quarter lengths over Sister Jean and John Delong and Cassius Lane and Brandon Bates.
The 28th season opener at Harrah’s Hoosier Park is next Friday, March 25. The final round of pre-meet qualifiers will be held Wednesday evening in a dress rehearsal format with an evening start time.