Kentucky Derby Context: Rock Your World

April 18th, 2021 horse racing analyst James Scully attended his first Kentucky Derby in 1981. Along with a brief profile of this year’s contenders, he is providing some historical context.

Rock Your World took no prisoners in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), crushing foes wire-to-wire by a 4 1/2-length margin, and he may have the skills to carry his form forward in the Kentucky Derby.

The John Sadler-trained sophomore was a tough read entering his first Kentucky Derby qualifier. Rock Your World had never raced on dirt or past a mile prior to the April 3 Santa Anita Derby, winning both a six-furlong maiden in early January and one-mile Pasadena S. eight weeks later on turf for owners Hronis Racing and Talla Racing.

After tracking the early pace in his first two outings, the Candy Ride colt switched to frontrunning tactics with jockey Umberto Rispoli in the Santa Anita Derby. He registered an excellent 102 Brisnet Speed rating, which is tied for the top last-out figure in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Rock Your World should be prominent from the start at Churchill Downs. His lack of experience is a concern, but the dark bay has won all three starts convincingly. He appears well-built for longer distances and given his improving form, Rock Your World will have appeal from a betting perspective.

Rock Your World projects to be the second choice to Essential Quality in the Kentucky Derby.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally and his wife, Deborah, bred Rock Your World. A three-time Eclipse Award winner, 88-year-old McAnally is best known for training champions John Henry, Bayakoa, and Paseana.

McAnally has another tie to Rock Your World, orchestrating the three-race North American campaign for unbeaten Argentinean superstar Candy Ride, who captured the 2003 Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar in his final start.

The Kentucky Derby has not been kind to the well-respected horseman. McAnally’s record reads 10-0-0-0, and he’s one of only two trainers to have at least 10 Kentucky Derby starters without a top three finish.

Rock Your World will try to give McAnally Kentucky Derby glory as a breeder.