GEORGETOWN, KY—Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement farm in Georgetown, Ky., is pleased to announce the arrival of graded-stakes winning Florida-bred millionaire, C Z Rocket, for his retirement.

The 10-year old bay gelding arrived at the farm on Wednesday, Feb. 29, courtesy of his trainer, Peter Miller, and his owner, Tom Kagele.

“C Z Rocket has captured the affections of countless race fans throughout his many years on the track,” Old Friends President and CEO John Nicholson said. “After such a successful career, this special gelding has earned the right to enjoy being pampered and celebrated here at Old Friends. We are grateful to his connections for seeking such a well-deserved happy retirement for him.”

Bred by Farm III Enterprises LLC, C Z Rocket, who is by City Zip out of Successful Sarah, by Successful Appeal, was foaled on Feb. 24, 2014 in Florida.

He was a then record $800,000 purchase by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations LLC at the 2016 Ocala Breeders’ Sales June Sale from the Stephens Thoroughbreds consignment before beginning his racing career the next year, winning his first three starts from barn of trainer Albert Stall Jr. at Saratoga, Keeneland and Churchill Downs.

In 2018, as a 4-year old, he won his first stakes race, the $68,130 Kelly’s Landing overnight stakes at Churchill Downs.

Then, after a fifth-place finish in a claiming race at Oaklawn Park on April 30, 2020, the then 6-year-old gelding was claimed for $40,000 by Miller and Kagele, who would race him for the rest of his career.

Following that claim, C Z Rocket won five straight races for his new connections the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar and the Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship at Santa Anita.

His other career graded-stakes win came in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap while his other stakes win was in the $200,000 Hot Springs at Oaklawn Park.

In addition, C Z Rocket ran in three Breeders’ Cup Sprints (G1), finishing second in 2020 and 2022 at Keeneland, and seventh in 2022 at Del Mar. (Note: In 2021 and 2022, it was called the Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1))

As a 10-year old in 2024, he raced only two times. In his first start, he finished third in an allowance race at Santa Anita, and then he finished sixth in a starter allowance race at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 19. Following that race, C Z Rocket was retired.

“It was just time to retire him,” trainer Peter Millers said to Wire to Wire. “He’s sound, but after his last race, he’s lost a few steps, so we thought it was time to retire him.

“There was nothing about him I didn’t like. He is just a gem. Always trained well, always worked well. Always ran well. Just an iron horse. Really just an iron horse.”

C Z Rocket closed out his career with 13 wins, nine seconds, seven thirds and $2,144,691 in earnings in 46 career starts.

“We chose Old Friends for his retirement because of the care and love these horses receive and the chance for the public to visit and enjoy this magnificent animal as much as we did,” Miller said in the Old Friends statemen.

“C Z Rocket meant the world to myself, my family, and my friends,” Kagele said. “He gave us so many great experiences and a lifetime full of memories. Bringing family and friends together on numerous occasions. I will miss watching him train and compete, but I am so grateful he is going to Old Friends Farm, which is one of the prestigious aftercare facilities for thoroughbred racehorses. I look forward to visiting him with a bag full of peppermints the next time we make our way to Kentucky. Thanks again C Z, it’s been a great ride ‘Old Friend.’”

“We are very grateful to Peter Miller and Tom Kagele for donating C Z Rocket to Old Friends,” Old Friends founder Michael Blowen said. “When I saw that he was in a race, I always knew he would give everything he had every time he stepped on the track. He was a lot of fun to watch.”

Return to March 2 issue of Wire to Wire