(Get Her Number arrives at Oaklawn Park / Coady Photography)
From the Oaklawn Park Media Team:
American Pharoah won the Rebel Stakes in 2015 at Oaklawn. Now, the winner of the 2020 American Pharoah Stakes, Get Her Number, will try to do the same in Saturday’s $1 million Grade 2 event.
Get Her Number, who is trained by Southern California-based Peter Miller, will make his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel, a 1 1/16-mile event that is Oaklawn’s third of four Kentucky Derby points races. Get Her Number already has something on his resume that seven scheduled Rebel rivals don’t – a Grade 1 victory. That came in his dirt debut and final start last year, the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes Sept. 26 at Santa Anita. The 1 1/16-mile race, renamed in 2018 to honor the 2015 Triple Crown winner, was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the $2 million Juvenile (G1) Nov. 6 at Keeneland. A minor physical setback, however, caused Get Her Number to miss the race.
A versatile son of Dialed In, Get Her Number lands in the Rebel off a string of workouts at San Luis Rey Downs north of San Diego.
“We wanted to get him race-fit before we picked the spot,” Miller said Wednesday afternoon. “He’s not 100 percent fit, but we’ve got to get him going here. He’s ready to run, so this looked like a good spot to start him back.”
Get Her Number, who races for prominent California owner Gary Barber, has won 2 of 3 starts overall. Get Her Number’s first two starts came on turf at Del Mar. He debuted with a half-length victory at 5 furlongs Aug. 14 before finishing fourth, beaten a length, in the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf at a mile Sept. 7. Get Her Number won the American Pharoah by three-quarters of a length.
Get Her Number has been a forward factor throughout his career, but Miller said he doesn’t expect the colt to press the issue Saturday. Rebel entrants include 9-5 program favorite Caddo River, who has won his last two starts, including the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 22 at Oaklawn, by a combined 19 ¾ front-running lengths.
“There looks like plenty of pace, so we’re not going to get involved early,” Miller said. “We’re going to try and sit back, third, fourth, something like that, and see if he can’t finish into the race.”
The Rebel will offer 85 points (50-20-10-5, respectively) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 horses. Get Her Number collected 10 points for his American Pharoah victory and ranks 19th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, according to Churchill Downs.
Get Her Number is 8-1 on the morning line for the Rebel and will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano. Get Her Number drew post 4.
In addition to the Rebel, American Pharoah won Oaklawn’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in 2015 before sweeping the Triple Crown and being named Horse of the Year.
The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 10.
The last time C Z Rocket ran at Oaklawn, the gelding was on a 10-race losing streak and in for a $40,000 claiming price.
C Z Rocket may have lost again last April, but Southern California-based trainer Peter Miller and owner Tom Kagele won big after claiming the gelding out of his fifth-place finish.
C Z Rocket captured his next five starts before his streak was snapped with a runner-up finish behind Whitmore in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland. Flip the results of the 6-furlong race and C Z Rocket would have gone from claimer to champion in roughly six months.
“My owner actually picked him,” Miller said Wednesday afternoon. “I OK’d it, but he picked him. He was off form, but obviously he had back class and back fast figures, fast sheet numbers. That was kind of what Tom Kagele saw and I agreed.”
Miller, who didn’t have to shake for C Z Rocket, said the gelding bled the day he was claimed and “just assumed he was a bad bleeder and we were able to control that.”
C Z Rocket went on to set a 6 ½-furlong track record (1:15) in a July 12 allowance race at Keeneland and edge Flagstaff in the $150,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) Aug. 29 at Del Mar and $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) Sept. 27 at Santa Anita before being beaten 3 ¼ lengths by Whitmore in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
C Z Rocket returns to Oaklawn, this time for a rematch with Whitmore in Saturday’s $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes for older sprinters. Like Whitmore, the country’s champion male sprinter of 2020, the Hot Springs will mark C Z Rocket’s first start since the Breeders’ Cup. The 7-year-old son of City Zip has recorded a series of workouts at San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California in advance of the Hot Springs, which also drew Flagstaff.
“The fact that we could run on Lasix was a major factor in us choosing to go to Oaklawn,” Miller said.
C Z Rocket’s career U-turn has him poised to reach $1 million career earnings this year. The gelding boasts a 9-2-2 mark from 23 lifetime starts and earnings of $891,641. Prominent North Little Rock, Ark., businessman Frank Fletcher purchased C Z Rocket for a sale-record $800,000 at the 2016 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company June Sale of 2-year-olds. C Z Rocket won his first three career starts (2017) and the $75,000 Kelly’s Landing Overnight Stakes (2018) before he began running for a tag last spring at Oaklawn.
C Z Rocket will be reunited Saturday with Florent Geroux, who was aboard for two of the gelding’s five consecutive victories last year. C Z Rocket is the 2-1 second choice in the program for the 6-furlong Hot Springs. Whitmore, who has won the Hot Springs a record four consecutive years, is the 8-5 favorite. Whitmore and C Z Rocket are scheduled to break from posts 6 and 7, respectively, in the projected seven-horse field.
“We felt like we could have won the Breeders’ Cup if we had a better trip,” Miller said. “We were plus-40 or 50 feet in the race, even though we broke from the 2 hole and he (Whitmore) broke from the (7) hole. Don’t ask me how that happened going three-quarters. But somehow or another we ended up giving up 40 or 50 feet in ground and we were closer to the pace than he really likes to be when the pace is that fast. We’re excited. Obviously, our end goal would be the Breeders’ Cup, but we’re looking forward to the rematch.”
C Z Rocket now races for Kagele, Madaket Stables LLC (Sol Kumin) and Gary Barber.
The Hot Springs is the final major local prep for the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 10. Whitmore has won the Count Fleet a record three times (2017, 2018 and 2020).