Retired sheriff Phillips enjoying the ride with Dee Rocks

Offers are coming in to purchase the undefeated Indiana-sired freshman pacing filly out of Just Peachy’s family, but Ron Phillips said he and partner John Carver are having too much fun to sell.

by James Platz

When John Carver acquired Nihilator filly Just Peachy in early 1991, the Illinois owner and breeder hoped for a reasonable return on his investment. As it turns out, what Just Peachy couldn’t deliver on the racetrack she has produced as a broodmare. Three generations later, Carver and his partner, Ron Phillips, continue to enjoy the fruits of the bloodline, the latest manifestation in the form of the Indiana-sired and undefeated freshman filly Dee Rocks.

It will be 25 years ago this October that Just Peachy made her first, and only, pari-mutuel start. Lining up behind the gate for trainer Scott Forbes in a race at Pocono Downs, the filly made a break racing to the quarter and finished last in a field of eight. She wouldn’t see the starting gate again. Within months Just Peachy would begin her career as a broodmare.

She would go on to produce 13 foals during her time as a broodmare, marked by 11 starters. From that group there were six winners, led by Dee Revrac, a gelding that collected 36 wins, just over $250,000 in earnings, and a speed badge of 1:51.1. Just Peachy’s second foal, M L Revrac, never made it to the races, but has gained notoriety as the dam of word champion Mel Mara.

Like her mother, Peachy Revrac, the third foal from Just Peachy, had an abbreviated racing career. The Falcon Seelster-sired pacer managed only three trips behind the gate, the last coming in Balmoral Park in September 1998. In that contest, she broke stride early in the mile and finished up the track in seventh. As it would turn out, she sustained an injury that would bring her career to an abrupt close.

“I trained them myself back then. No matter how fast she was going, she would just give you more,” said Phillips, a retired sheriff. “She got a slab fracture in her knee and she was done. She’s still running around the farm today. She’s my best older mare. She’s really been a good producer.”

Peachy Revrac’s 11 foals have all started, with 10 of them reaching the winner’s circle. She has produced a trio of $100,000 winners for Carver and Phillips, with several mares to carry on the line. One of those mares, Incredible Katie, has already shown she can carry Just Peachy’s legacy forward. The Incredible Finale mare registered two wins and three-runner up efforts in 11 career starts for her connections.

“She was a nice big, stout mare, and she was a handful,” said Phillips. “I don’t think she ever reached her full potential.”

Just as the mares before her, Incredible Katie has made up for a lack of production on the racetrack with results back at the farm. From three foals she is responsible for three winners, all by different sires. Mr Leland’s Filly, by Sportsmaster, took a mark of 1:53 as a sophomore and earned $199,588. But Dee Rocks has garnered the most attention of the trio, and in her first season of racing, the filly has turned heads competing at Hoosier Park.

Entrusted to Dossie Minor, the Rockin Image freshman has yet to taste defeat in six starts. The filly collected her first three triumphs at Hawthorne, each time with Tim Curtin in the bike. Making her Indiana Sires Stakes debut July 5, Dee Rocks and Sam Widger closed late to nose out Laila J And Ginger in the $20,000 Round 1 elimination. The filly stopped the clock in 1:54.1 after coming home in :26.3. One week later, Dee Rocks captured the first $75,000 final of the season, taking control after the quarter and crossing the wire more than three lengths in front in a time in 1:53.3.

“All she has is a bridle and a head pole. She isn’t afraid of anything. She just doesn’t do anything wrong,” Minor said of his pupil. “She can sit in a hole, she can leave if you want to leave with her. She’ll let you use her the way you want to use her. You can’t ask for a better horse.”

In her latest start for Minor, Dee Rocks picked up her second ISS elimination win at Hoosier Park. This time, Widger was able to sit third through the opening half before moving to the lead and winning by a length and a half, tripping the timer in 1:54. To date, the filly has earned $68,000, and will be sent off as the favorite in the second $75,000 final slated for Wednesday (Aug. 2). She has drawn post four.

“She’s pretty impressive so far. You can’t imagine all the calls that I’ve got, guys really wanting me to put a price on her,” said the 77-year-old Phillips. “I don’t want to do it. I just don’t want to sell her. I enjoy watching her race.”

As Dee Rocks continues to build upon her early accomplishments, inquiries continue. Phillips admits that if he were in the same position in the past, the partnership may have seriously entertained selling the filly. Time, however, has changed his perspective.

“I’m certainly not wealthy. I just have retirement and a little social security. I was a sheriff in law enforcement most of my life. $200,000 or $225,000 is one hell of a lot of money,” Phillips said. “At this stage of the game, if she doesn’t make another dime, I’m still going to eat tomorrow. When you get older you change your thinking about things.”

Instead of cashing in on the quick success of Dee Rocks, Phillips and Carver are going to enjoy her freshman campaign. Another filly like this just doesn’t come around every day. Just Peachy never made it to the winner’s circle, but she has become the foundation for a family that continues to produce speedy racehorses.