HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Throughout his young race career, Jacks or Better Farm’s C. Zee has had to face the likes of top 3-year-olds such as General a Rod and Wildcat Red – horses that made it to the starting gate in today’s 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Without those foes to deal with, C. Zee displayed the promise trainer Stanley Gold saw in him by holding off a fast-closing East Hall to win the $75,000 Sir Bear Stakes by ¾ of a length over a sloppy track.
“I was hoping he’d run like that, and he did,” Gold said. “He didn’t disappoint me, but he scared me. You see [East Hall] breathing down and you’re afraid [he’s] going to overtake him, but [C. Zee] didn’t quit. He just kept running and was the best today.”
C. Zee covered the mile distance in 1:36.95. He led gate to wire, a strategy jockey Edgard Zayas said was formulated after morning-line favorite Social Inclusion scratched from the race with a bruised right hoof.
“When Social Inclusion scratched this morning, we (he and Gold) decided to just let him go to the front, and it worked out fine,” Zayas said. “Everything went OK.”
Entering the race, there were questions about whether C. Zee could succeed around two turns. His only previous try doing so resulted in a tenth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2), in which he finished 22 ¾ lengths behind Wildcat Red. But Gold had no doubts his horse could go the distance.
“He’s always showed that he’s got speed and that he would go long,” Gold said. “We ran him two turns the first time here and he disappointed a little, but it was his first two-turn race. He’s just continued to improve, and I think his best days are ahead of him. He’s a nice horse.”
C. Zee is a Florida bred by Elusive Bluff out of the Distorted Humor mare Diamondaire. While C. Zee has now proven himself as a stakes winner on dirt, those bloodlines have Gold excited about the colt’s potential as a turf runner.
“Right now the plan is to keep him on the dirt, but the turf is in his future,” Gold said. “His father only ran two times, and they were both on the grass and both two turns. He won both races – one was a graded stake – and then he got hurt. We were hoping to run him in the Breeders’ Cup, but he never ran again. The mare had run on the turf but only ran a few times, and I think the turf is where [C. Zee’s] future is going to be. He’s got the speed and he’s able to do it on the dirt, but I’m looking forward to the turf.”
A win over sloppy conditions could be also a positive indicator of a future on the grass.
“They say if you like the slop, you like the turf, but I don’t know if it’s true,” Gold said. “But I know he’ll like the grass, and he obviously liked the slop.”