Saturday, August 29th, 2020   ( 5 months ago )

C Z Rocket Home First in Saturday's Pat O'Brien

C Z Rocket | Benoit Photo

C Z Rocket (outside) © Benoit Photo 

Tom Kagele’s C Z Rocket, a classy, old veteran who seems to have found a new lease on life since he was claimed for $40,000 at Oaklawn Park in April, continued his rebirth at Del Mar Saturday when he went gamely through the stretch to capture the Pat O’Brien Stakes by half a length.

The 6-year-old gelded son of City Zip won his fourth race in a row since the claim, the previous three having come again claiming and allowance company in Kentucky. He picked up a check for $90,000 from the $150,000 purse in the Grade II stake that pushed his bankroll up to $431,641.

The bay ran the seven furlongs in 1:22.25 and, as the 11-10 favorite, paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.20 across the board.

The victory added more accolades to an accolade-filled summer for his rider and trainer – Flavien Prat and Peter Miller, respectively. Prat registered his 12th stakes win of the meet, just one away from the Del Mar record of 13 set by Rafael Bejarano in 2012. Miller picked up his fifth stakes win of the session and his meet-leading 22nd tally in the 21st day of racing.

Finishing second was Lane’s End Racing and Hronis Racing’s Flagstaff, while Dan Agnew, Gerry Schneider and John Xitco’s Law Abidin Citizen ran third.

The O’Brien was a Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” race guaranteeing the victor entry into the $2-million BC Dirt Mile with all fees paid. That race will be run on Saturday, November 7 at Keeneland in Lexington, KY.

In the day’s Pick Six bet, a two-day $247,091 carryover stirred the pot and drew $1,167,066 in “new” money to the pool. After Facts Matter paid $9.00 for winning the 11th and final race on the card, there were 147 tickets with all six winner, each paying out $5,941.60.  There will be a “Jackpot” carryover into Sunday’s card of $186,553.

Racing resumes tomorrow starting at 2 p.m. There also will be a Monday racing card this week with a similar 2 p.m. post.

FLAVIEN PRAT (C Z Rocket, winner) – “We saw that he’d been breaking slow in his races, so we were prepared for that. But he broke well today and we were right in the race. Then the pace wasn’t that fast, so we were right there. When I asked him, he was good. He’s a willing horse.

“Yes, this is my 12th stakes wins this summer at Del Mar. I’ve been riding good horses for good connections. That surely makes things easier.”

PETER MILLER (C Z Rocket, winner) – “He broke well and usually he doesn’t. The pace was slow and Flavien had him in the perfect spot. Tom Kagele (owner) actually called me (about claiming the horse) and I said, ‘His form is bad right now, but he’s a runner.’ You could see he had run some really fast races. I like old class horses that have shown talent. If you can get them going in the right direction they can run back to past form. Tom claimed him and the rest is history.”

C Z Rocket has won four straight since being claimed for $40,000. It was owner Kagele’s 50th birthday and the 11th wedding anniversary for Miller and his wife, Lani.

FRACTIONS:  :23.10  :46.04  1:10.06  1:22.25

The stakes win was the 12th of the meeting for rider Prat and his second (2019, Catalina Cruiser) in the Pat O’Brien. He now has 56 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The stakes win was the fifth stakes win of the meet for trainer Miller and his second (2015, Appealing Tale) in the Pat O’Brien. He now has 34 stakes wins at Del Mar.

The winning owner is Tom Kagele of LaVerne, CA.