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Santa Anita Sprint Championship Preview: C Z Rocket Streaks into The Great Race Place
C Z Rocket winning the Pat O'Brien (Credit: Benoit Photo)

Santa Anita Sprint Championship Preview: C Z Rocket Streaks into The Great Race Place

ARCADIA, CA – Tom Kagele’s C Z Rocket brings a 4-race win streak into The Great Race Place with his eyes set on winning Sunday’s $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G2).

The winner of the Santa Anita Sprint Championship will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.

The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a 6-furlong dirt dash open to horses ages 3 and up, with the 2020 edition attracting five.

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Let’s look at the full field:

#1 Collusion Illusion – The field’s only sophomore is back for more after defeating seven older horses in the Bing Crosby Stakes (G1) last time out and punching his ticket into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He’s a perfect 5-for-5 in dirt sprints and retains the services of the circuit’s top jockey Flavien Prat, who’s been aboard for 4 of those 5 past victories and has a 22% success rate since 2019 when riding for trainer Mark Glatt.

#2 Desert Law – He’ll try once more to earn his first graded score while tackling a distance that seems to be his best; 4 of his 5 wins have come in 6-furlong dirt sprints. He came within a 1/2-length of winning the 2019 Bing Crosby and was most recently second in an optional claiming sprint at Del Mar, but though his last taste of victory came over this course and distance, it also occurred in June 2019 and against fellow California-breds.

#3 Flagstaff – He returned from nearly three months away to finish a very game second in the Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2), a 7-furlong test at Del Mar that saw him cross just a 1/2-length behind while sandwiched between rivals. He’s never missed the board in 5 starts at this distance (winning once) and trainer John Sadler – who’s won this event a record 4 times – has a 22% success rate with horses making their second starts back after similar layoffs.

#4 C Z Rocket – Trainer Peter Miller has turned him into one of the nation’s best sprinters since claiming him for $40k in late April, saddling him to victory in all 4 subsequent starts that culminated in the Pat O’Brien last time out. Though that win earned him a place in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile (G1), Miller said post-race that he was more keen on making the Sprint his year-end goal; a dirt mile at Keeneland is a two-turn event.

#5 Giant Expectations – The venerable 7-year-old returned from nearly 10 months away to finish fifth in the Pat O’Brien, a race he missed by just a head the year prior, and has cashed plenty of checks in his 24-race career. He’s only won once over the local ground (the 2017 San Antonio Stakes [G2]) and never when running this short, but he fired a bullet best-of-17 work over this course for his final tune-up, covering 4 furlongs in :47.80.


The Santa Anita Sprint Championship serves as race 8 and is one of 3 stakes on the Sunday card at Santa Anita Park, including the Zenyatta (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for the Longines Distaff. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue October 2 at Keeneland with the Alcibiades (Juvenile Filles) and the Phoenix (Sprint).

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.

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