BY BROCK SHERIDAN
Florida-breds C Z Rocket and Speed Boat Beach are among nine of the quickest Thoroughbreds in Southern California who will face off in the Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship presented by Estrella Jalisco at Santa Anita Park Saturday. C Z Rocket will make his fourth appearance in the $200,000 Sprint Championship while Speed Boat Beach makes his first start of the year in the six-furlong affair.
C Z Rocket finished just a nose shy of winner Howbeit in last year’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship before traveling to Keeneland where he was second to Elite Power in the Grade 1 Qatar Racing Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 5. The 9-year-old veteran won the 2020 Santa Anita Sprint Championship and was third in the 2021 version, won by Dr. Schivel, who he faces again Saturday.
More recently, C Z Rocket was fifth in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby won by The Chosen Vron going six furlongs at Del Mar on July 29 and third in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien won by Anarchist at seven furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 26.
C Z Rocket is trained by Peter Miller for Altamira Racing Stable, Madaket Stables LLC and Tom Kagele and looks to build on his career earnings of $2,092,441 from 12 wins, nine seconds and six thirds from 42 starts.
Bred by Farm III Enterprises, C Z Rocket sold for a then record $800,000 at the 2016 Ocala Breeders’ Sales June Sale where he was purchased by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations from the Stephens Thoroughbreds consignment.
C Z Rocket will break from post six with jockey Giovanni Franco aboard.
Speed Boat Beach makes the first start of his 3-year-old season after finishing last year with a half-length victory in the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille going a mile on the turf at Del Mar in December.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Speed Boat Beach was purchased by owners Michael E. Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman for $200,000 in the name of Three Amigos out of the Really and Truly Thoroughbreds consignment at last year’s OBS March Sale.
He then won his first two career starts, including the $102,000 Speakeasy sprinting five furlongs on the turf at Santa Anita in October, before finishing a troubled ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint won by Mischief Magic (Ire) at Keeneland on Nov. 4.
Out of the unraced Pioneerof the Nile mare Sophia Mia, Speed Boat Beach was bred in Florida by Richard Heysek’s Caperlane Farm in Williston, Fla., and has earned $178,000 from his four starts.
Speed Boat Beach has post eight and Victor Espinoza will ride.
Baffert has also entered Arabian Lion and Fort Bragg.
A Grade 1 winner of the seven-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont Park in June, Arabian Lion has one start since, finishing third in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial won by One in Vermillion over a muddy seven furlongs at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 26. He also won the $99,000 Sir Barton by four lengths going a mile-and-a-sixteenth at Pimlico in May after finishing second to First Mission in the Grade 3 Lexington at the same distance at Keeneland in April.
Another graduate of OBS, the 3-year-old Arabian Lion was purchased by owner Amr Zedan’s Zedan Racing Stables Inc., for $600,000 out of the Hidden Brook consignment at the 2022 Spring Sale.
The son of Justify has three wins, two seconds and a third in eight starts with earnings of $497,600.
Edwin Moldonado has the mount on Arabian Lion and they have drawn post three.
Fort Bragg exits a fourth-place finish in the Jerkens after winning the Grade 3 Dwyer going a mile at Belmont Park on July 1.
Fort Bragg is owned by SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital LLC and Catherine Donovan and the son of Tapit has two wins, two seconds and two thirds in nine starts with earnings of $351,300.
Ramon A Vasquez will be in the saddle and Fort Bragg has post four.
Also entered are American Theorem with jockey Umberto Rispoli, Vistant and rider Antonio Fresu, Sir Atticus will have Mike Smith aboard and Spirit of Makena and jockey Joe Bravo.
Return to the Sept. 28 issue of Wire to Wire