C Z Rocket reversed the form of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) while narrowly denying champion Whitmore a fifth consecutive victory in the $200,000 Hot Springs S. at Oaklawn Park on Saturday.
Both C Z Rocket and 17-10 favorite Whitmore were making their first starts since Whitmore triumphed by 3 1/4 lengths over C Z Rocket in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in early November. While Whitmore had won the past four runnings of the six-furlong Hot Springs, C Z Rocket’s late charge proved best as his last-to-first rally was enough to edge the Eclipse Award winner by a neck. Flagstaff was a clear third and was followed by Firecrow, Boldor, Engage, and Mr. Jagermeister.
Ridden by Florent Geroux, C Z Rocket sped in 1:09.04 and paid $7.20 for owners Madaket stables, Gary Barber, and Tom Kagele.
“I didn’t think we would be behind Whitmore, but it kind of worked out,” trainer Peter Miller said. “He was a little further back than I’d thought he would be, honestly. I did see pace was hot. Flo knows what he’s doing. Horse runs really well for him. Pace was fast, so we were where we were supposed to be and it worked out.”
Acquired by Peter Miller for $40,000 via the claim box at Oaklawn last April 30, C Z Rocket had been unplaced that day and in three previous starts over the Oaklawn strip. The seven-year-old gelding’s form since joining the Miller barn, however has been impeccable with the Breeders’ Cup the only setback seven outings.
After graduating from the claiming and allowance ranks last summer, C Z Rocket scored back-to-back wins in the Pat O’Brien (G2) and Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) prior to his Breeders’ Cup excursion. His record now stands at 24-10-2-2, $1,011,641.
Bred in Florida by Farm III Enterprises, C Z Rocket is by City Zip and out of the Grade 3-placed Successful Sarah, by Successful Appeal.
Silver State earned his fourth consecutive win, and second stakes of the Oaklawn meet, with a narrow victory in the $500,000 Essex H. under Ricardo Santana Jr.
The 6-5 favorite in a field of six, Silver State made a four-wide bid for the lead turning for home and had to dig in through the stretch to repel Rated R Superstar by a neck. Night Ops, the 2020 Essex winner, finished third and was followed by Harpers First Ride, Green Light Go, and Uphold.
Owned by Ron Winchell and Willis Horton, Silver State paid $4.40 after completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.73. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt also captured the Jan. 23 Fifth Season S. by a nose as well as two allowances last fall in Kentucky.
Twice graded-placed at Fair Grounds last season in the Lecomte (G3) and a Risen Star (G2) division, Silver State now sports a record of 9-5-2-1, $630,094. By Hard Spun, the Kentucky-bred was produced by the stakes-winning Empire Maker mare Supreme and is from the family of 2001 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Monarchos.
Temperence Hill S.
In another tight finish, Carlos L. shocked the $150,000 Temperence Hill S. at odds of 47-1 while breaking a 64-year-old track record at the little-used distance of 1 1/2 miles.
Sent to the front at the start by Alex Canchari, Carlos L. maintained a comfortable lead through the opening mile and gamely maintained a slighter advantage when under pressure for the final quarter-mile. The winning margin was a neck over Lone Rock, with 5-2 favorite Tenfold another neck behind in third. Rounding out the order of finish were Treasure Trove, Campaign, Plainsman, You’re to Blame, and Split the Wickets.
Owned by Good Friends II and trained by Mac Robertson, Carlos L. returned $97.40. The final time of 2:29.87 shattered the previous mark of 2:31.60 that had stood since 1957.
A Group 1 winner in Peru over 1 5/16 miles as a three-year-old, Carlos L. had won or placed in only one of six prior starts since returning to the U.S., that being a three-length allowance win over 6 1/2 furlongs at Hawthorne in December. His record now stands at 16-7-2-2, $262,999.
The five-year-old Kentucky-bred Carlos L. is by Hold Me Back and out of Bless Your Heart, by Lewis Michael.