By Dick Powell
Good horses can come along on the weekend or on a weekday afternoon. On the last Friday of the Saratoga meet, Al Stall Jr. unveiled first-time starter C Z ROCKET (City Zip) in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight on the dirt. Off some good workouts on the Saratoga main track, he went off as the fifth choice in the field of eight 3YOs and upwards.
He drew the rail and with Jose Lezcano aboard, the bay colt broke tardily and was soon behind the field. The pace was swift and at one point, C Z Rocket was about 11 lengths behind. After a half mile was run, he cut the margin to 5 ½ lengths but there was still a lot of work to do when they hit the top of the stretch.
Relentlessly, C Z Rocket just kept coming and suddenly, it looked like not only was he going to win but win going away. The final margin was two lengths and he stopped the timer in 1:16.19, earning a strong BRIS Speed rating of 94 in his September 1 career debut.
The 3YO colt showed up again last Wednesday at Keeneland in a first-level allowance race going seven furlongs and on paper, it looked like a strong group. Once again, C Z Rocket drew the rail in a long sprint and once again, he got away to a slow start. Lezcano moved him up the inside down the backside and was about five lengths behind going into the far turn.
The early pace was swift, with an opening half-mile in 44.81 seconds, and when some of the early leaders began to tire, Lezcano had to wait for room nearing the top of the stretch. It looked like the rider would angle outside for a clear run but when an opening presented itself between horses, C Z Rocket shot through and dove to the rail, taking clear aim on leader LENSTAR (Shackleford).
Just like his debut win at Saratoga, C Z Rocket pulled away willingly and galloped out well. His final time for the seven furlongs was 1:22.69 and he earned a BRIS Speed rating of 93.
C Z Rocket was purchased for $800,000 at OBS’ June 2YO-in-training sale and did not make his debut until 15 months later. He is bred to be jackrabbit quick but crawls out of the gate and finishes like gangbusters. The positive visual impression and the mistakes he makes indicates that he has a huge depth of talent.
CITY ZIP (Carson City) was a sprinter but as a sire, he has given us COLLECTED (City Zip), winner of the 10-furlong Pacific Classic (G1); CATCH A GLIMPSE (City Zip), who won the 1 ¼-mile Belmont Oaks (G1); and DAYATTHESPA (City Zip), who went out in style by capturing the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at 10 furlongs.
C Z Rocket’s dam side is loaded with speed with broodmare sires SUCCESSFUL APPEAL (Valid Appeal), UNREAL ZEAL (Mr. Prospector) and WHITESBURG (Crimson Satan). His Dosage Index is 6.33 but is not trying to win a ten-furlong race on the first Saturday of May.
Stall trained BLAME (Pulpit) to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the Whitney Handicap (G1) and the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at the age of four. A late developer, it took Blame four starts to get through his first-allowance level at three and two starts to break his maiden.
So, C Z Rocket is already ahead of Blame to begin his career. However, Stall had already begun to stretch Blame out to two turns at this point of the calendar and it will be interesting to see what his next move will be with C Z Rocket. An allowance race is out of the question since it will not fill if he is pointed for it and do you want to make your two-turn debut against stakes company? He might have to.
Most likely, C Z Rocket will go to New Orleans to train at Fair Grounds next month to prepare for some major stakes races over the winter. He will need to learn to get away from the gate better but his stride and energy indicates enormous talent and Stall is the right trainer to get him to the next level.
Run late Friday night at Royal Randwick in Sydney, Australia, the Everest Stakes (G1) was an enormous success. The $10 million purse was put up by the owners of the entrants and they had so many horses willing that they had four horses on the also-eligible list ready to go if something happened to the top 12.
REDZEL (Snitzel) was a deserving winner by three-quarters of a length over VEGA MAGIC (Lope de Vega) with a heady ride by Kerrin Mcevoy. My pick, SHE WILL REIGN (Manhattan Rain), broke slow from the inside but when she had a seam to run through in the stretch, she came up empty. Maybe that spectacular finish in her previous race took too much out of her. With the success of The Everest, she will have other chances to win it.