News and STORIES

C Z Rocket Takes Santa Anita Sprint to Extend Win Streak

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Monday September 28, 2020
C Z Rocket extended his win streak to five after beating Flagstaff in the $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G2) Sept. 27 at Santa Anita Park

Owned by Gary Barber, Tom Kagele, and Madaket Stables, the 6-year-old City Zip gelding was claimed for $40,000 by Kagele and trainer Peter Miller at Oaklawn Park back in April. 

Some of his victories included two graded stakes wins, and C Z Rocket was awarded berths into two of the Breeders’ Cup races, which are scheduled for Nov. 7 at Keeneland. 

"There were a lot of things involved in this. We recently sold a part of him to Gary Barber and Sol Kumin, and I really wanted to win for those two gentlemen," Miller said. "Flavien (Prat) took off him, and I wanted to prove that he made the wrong move.

"It was the owner, Tom Kagele, who picked the horse," Miller added. "I wouldn't have picked him, his form was too bad to claim him, but I did like that he had run some fast races in the past. We thought if we could get him back into that form, he could be a very nice horse."

With his victory in the Santa Anita Sprint, C Z Rocket was awarded a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). Before that, he won the Aug. 29 Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar to take a spot in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

"We're definitely leaning toward the Sprint. He's won the last (five) going one turn," Miller said. "We're going to keep him one turn."

The Running

The six-furlong Santa Anita Sprint Championship saw C Z Rocket and jockey Luis Saez break out of the gate quickly, but Flagstaff and Victor Espinoza took the lead. C Z Rocket stalked the pace, sitting a half-length behind the leader.

Collusion Illusion, the winner of the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1), followed in third under Flavien Prat.

Saez and C Z Rocket went three-wide through the turn after following fractions of :22.33 and :45.27. As they approached the eighth pole, C Z Rocket headed Flagstaff. Even though he started to drift out in the stretch, C Z Rocket continued to push forward and took the victory by a head, paying out $4.80 as the favorite.

"I didn't expect to be that close, but he broke so sharp and he took me there," Saez said. "I decided to let him settle and keep him happy. When I pulled the trigger turning for home, he took off. I love this horse. Now he's ready for the real deal."

Flagstaff finished second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Collusion Illusion. The rest of the field followed with Desert Law and Giant Expectations completing the order.

The final time was clocked at 1:09.14 on the fast track.

C Z Rocket’s Career

C Z Rocket has an impressive career, earning $310,344 since his claiming. His career record is now at 9-1-2 in 22 starts with total earnings of $551,641. 

"I've owned horses since 1999, and we were with (trainer) Mike Machowsky. This is unreal, we're so happy," Kagele said. "The Breeders' Cup people contacted us after he won the Pat O' Brien, and they said we could come, so we're bringing a party. This is so great, to see what he's done with Pete. I was very lucky to be a part of Southern Image with Mike (Machowsky), and we won the (2004) Santa Anita Handicap (G1), and now to be in a position to run in our first Breeders' Cup … wow."