C Z Rocket Returns at Oaklawn

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, jhoyt@oaklawn.com or (501) 363-4305

Thursday, February 16, 2023

C Z Rocket showing winning the 2021 Count Fleet Stakes

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

C Z Rocket Returns at Oaklawn

Almost three years after being claimed for $40,000 at Oaklawn, C Z Rocket can surpass $2 million in career earnings with a victory in Friday’s eighth race at Oaklawn, a $108,000 allowance sprint for older horses.

C Z Rocket will be making his 9-year-old debut in the 6-furlong race, which also attracted multiple stakes winner Necker Island and Grade 3 winner Morello.

“This was a good spot to get him started,” Miller said Monday afternoon. “I’m not sure if I’ve got him 100 percent cranked up, but it just made a lot of sense. We know he’s run well over there and can’t get an allowance race like that over here in California.”

C Z Rocket has bankrolled $1,711,344 since Southern California-based trainer Peter Miller, on behalf of owner Tom Kagele, claimed C Z Rocket for $40,000 out of a fifth-place finish in an April 30, 2020, sprint at Oaklawn.

In 18 starts for Miller, C Z Rocket has eight victories, five seconds and three thirds. C Z Rocket, after being claimed, set a 6 ½-furlong track record (1:15) in a July 2020 allowance race at Keeneland and captured two Grade 2 events later that year in Southern California. He added two more stakes victories in 2021 at Oaklawn – $200,000 Hot Springs and $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3). He was also runner-up in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in 2020 and 2022. Both 6-furlong races were at Keeneland. C Z Rocket has won 12 of 35 starts overall and earned $1,952,641.

“He’s something,” Miller said. “He’s amazing, really amazing. Just his energy, his soundness, his ability – he’s defying Father Time.”

C Z Rocket, a gelded son of the late City Zip, hasn’t started since finishing second to future Eclipse Award winner Elite Power in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 5. C Z Rocket launched his 2022 campaign with a third-place finish in a January allowance sprint at Oaklawn. Prior to the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, he finished second, beaten a nose, in the $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) at 6 furlongs Oct. 1 at Santa Anita.

C Z Rocket has five published workouts at San Luis Rey Downs leading up to his 2023 debut, the last a 5-furlong move in 1:00.40 Feb. 7. C Z Rocket, the 7-5 program favorite, is scheduled to break from post 4 under eight-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana.

Miller said Friday’s start could be C Z Rocket’s bridge to races like the $200,000 Whitmore Stakes (G3) March 18 at Oaklawn and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 15. Both races are 6 furlongs. A trip to the United Arab Emirates could also be in play with a strong performance, Miller said.

“We would, depending how he runs, consider all sorts of options – coming back to Oaklawn, perhaps, Dubai,” Miller said. “We’ve got nothing other than Friday on the schedule.”

Probable post time for Friday’s eighth race is 4:10 p.m. (Central).

The Joy of Six

Another year, another appearance in the Razorback Handicap for millionaire multiple graded stakes winner Rated R Superstar.

The $600,000 Grade 3 race for older horses Saturday at Oaklawn will mark the sixth Razorback start for Rated R Superstar, who finished sixth in 2018 for trainer Kenny McPeek, third in 2019 for trainer Cipriano Contreras, seventh in 2020 for Contreras and fifth the last two years for trainer Federico Villafranco. The 10-year-old gelding is now trained by Villafranco’s son, Martin.

A victory in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile race would make Rated R Superstar the oldest horse to win a two-turn stakes race at Oaklawn and boost his career earnings to more than $2 million. A top two finish would make Rated R Superstar a millionaire for owner Danny Caldwell, who claimed the Kodiak Kowboy gelding for $50,000 Jan. 30, 2021, at Oaklawn.

“That would be awesome, Caldwell, a four-time Oaklawn leading owner, said Wednesday morning. “I never would have dreamed that would have taken place when I claimed him that day, an older horse like that. There’s been a few like him, but he’s almost one of a kind, really, at that age, to continue to run at this level. I’m just very fortunate to have him in my barn.”

In 18 starts for Caldwell, Rated R Superstar has six victories, including five stakes, and earnings of $912,907. The late-running gelding won two stakes last year at Oaklawn for Caldwell and Federico Villafranco – $150,000 Fifth Season at 1 mile and the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) at 1 1/16 miles. Rated R Superstar, in his 10-year-old debut, finished third, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by Ginobili, in the Fifth Season Jan. 14. Ginobili is among six graded stakes winners entered in the Razorback.

Caldwell said he believes there is more early speed in the Razorback, which could help Rated R Superstar’s chances. The gelding is also reunited with 2021-2022 co-Oaklawn leading rider David Cabrera Saturday. Isaac Castillo, who had ridden Rated R Superstar in his last two starts, stuck with Jan. 7 Oaklawn allowance winner Keystone Field for the Razorback.

“I think a couple of those horses have to go,” Caldwell said. “I don’t think they have any choice. That’s just the way they run. It’s going to set up a speed duel. We’re going to have to have a lot of racing luck with the way we come off the pace, his running style. He’s training really good and doing really good. David’s back aboard. Isaac didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just he had an opportunity to ride another horse, so I had the opportunity to ask David to see if he wanted come. Of course, David was ready to go. He wanted to get back on him. He loves the horse. It worked out for both of us.”

Cabrera was aboard Rated R Superstar for his victories in the Fifth Season and Essex. Overall, Rated R Superstar has a 13-10-9 record from 66 starts and earnings of $1,794,930. He is an eight-time stakes winner.

Finish Lines

A Mo Reay, winner of the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 4 at Oaklawn, “probably” goes next in the $500,000 Beholder Mile (G1) March 11 at Santa Anita, trainer Brad Cox said Wednesday morning. The Beholder Mile is the same day as Oaklawn’s $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares. Cox is pointing multiple graded stakes winner Interstatedaydream, owned by Staton Flurry of Hot Springs, for the 1 1/16-mile Azeri. … Cox said Verifying and Giant Mischief, who have been based at Fair Grounds, remain on course for Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race, the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 25. “Right now, that seems like the two we’re bringing,” Cox said Wednesday morning. Post positions for the Rebel and two other Feb. 25 stakes races, $300,000 Honeybee (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the $150,000 Carousel for older female sprinters, will be drawn Monday. Cox said Wet Paint, winner of Oaklawn’s $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 28, “probably” goes next in the Honeybee. The Honeybee is Oaklawn’s second Kentucky Oaks points race. … Cox said Jace’s Road and Corona Bolt, fifth and sixth, respectively, in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Jan. 28 at Oaklawn, are under consideration for the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3) at 1 mile March 4 at Aqueduct. The 1 1/16-mile Southwest was Oaklawn’s second Kentucky Derby points race. Both horses worked a half-mile last Sunday at Oaklawn. … Erick Fuentes, a 10-pound apprentice jockey, is named on his first horse at Oaklawn, Joe Bill, in Monday’s ninth race for trainer Kenny Smith. Fuentes, who has one career victory, had previously been based in New York. He is represented by agent Joe Santos.