C. Zee will make his graded stakes debut in the Hutcheson Stakes on Saturday, and trainer Stanley Gold hopes to use the race as a gauge on where to go next.
Runner-up in the Spectacular Bid at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4, C. Zee stretches out from six to seven furlongs in the grade III race at the track.
“This horse has got good size, he’s made well, and he’s well-balanced. He’s just a good-looking horse with a likeable personality,” Gold said. “I’m not going to rule anything out, but I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I might go home with my head between my legs or I might go home thinking, 'I’ve got to get him ready to go two turns in the Fountain of Youth with the Florida Derby right around the corner.'
“The main thing is he’ll rate, but he’s quick, so that’s nice. He surprised me when he turned out like this because usually you don’t get that. It’s really nice to have that trait.”
C. Zee was disqualified from second to third in his debut at Calder in September. At Gulfstream, he broke his maiden by 2 1/4 lengths over the well-regarded Endowment Manager on Dec. 13, then was second to the now-sidelined Just Call Kenny in the Spectacular Bid. C. Zee has put in two sharp works at Calder since the race, five furlongs in 1:01.40 (3/16) and four in :48:20 (2/36).
“We could have easily won it,” Gold said of the Spectacular Bid. “If you watch the head-on coming out of the stretch, we were about three wide closely together and (the winner) was coming from behind. Had we not fanned a little wide coming out of the turn, he wouldn’t have been able to come through, and it might have been a different outcome. But, that’s racing. Things happen.
“He doesn’t mind the track, and I don’t think he cares what the track condition is,” Gold said. “He’s pretty much a laid-back horse and just takes everything in stride. Considering how little experience he has and what he’s done, I think he’s got a real bright future ahead of him. I’m looking forward to the race.”
C. Zee, named after cubic zirconia, is a son of Elusive Bluff out of the Distorted Humor mare Diamondaire. Elusive Bluff made only two starts before being hurt, a pair of grass wins including the 1 1/16-mile Miss Grillo in 2008.
“He’s a well-bred horse. (Elusive Bluff) was supposed to be a big horse, but he’s little known,” Gold said. “I didn’t know anything about him until we got this horse. I think this is his first crop. I don’t think there are too many Elusive Bluffs around. He might be a pretty decent sire in time.”
Should he decide to stay sprinting, Gold said he would also consider the seven-furlong Swale on March 1.
“Hopefully, the outcome on Saturday is good and we’ll move forward and go two turns and go against the tops at the distance,” Gold said. “He’s still got to run good in the Hutcheson. We won’t be ducking anybody if he proves to be good.”
Edited Gulfstream Park release with additional content by Dick Downey