Defender Collusion Illusion, C Z Rocket target G2 Bing Crosby

Defender Collusion Illusion, C Z Rocket target G2 Bing Crosby
Photo: Benoit Photo
Del Mar will host its first of five Breeders’ Cup Challenge “win and you’re in” races July 31 with the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (G2) going six furlongs, which provides the winner a fees-paid berth to this fall’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar.

While nominations for the Bing Crosby close at the end of business Thursday, a couple of locally based trainers with top sprinters have already indicated their plans to be in the fray.

Trainer Mark Glatt said this month that Collusion Illusion, who won last year’s Bing Crosby as a 3-year-old, will be back to defend his title and will likely be joined by 3-year-old stablemate Dr. Schivel
.

On Tuesday trainer Peter Miller told Horse Racing Nation he plans to run the crack sprinter C Z Rocket in the Crosby. The 7-year-old gelding has won 7 of 9 starts since being claimed for $40,000 last year.

Collusion Illusion would be returning from a layoff of more than seven months in the Bing Crosby. In last year’s edition Collusion Illusion rallied from second-last under Flavien Prat to win by a nose. The Twirling Candy colt would go on to be second to C Z Rocket in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) and a disappointing 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland.

Collusion Illusion has not started since he was third in the Dec. 26 Malibu (G1) at Santa Anita to close out his sophomore campaign. He has been working steadily since early June towards his expected comeback, which includes a quick five-furlong drill in 58.8 seconds at Del Mar on Thursday.

Dr. Schivel closed out his juvenile campaign in September when winning the Del Mar Futurity (G1). After a layoff of more than nine months he returned on June 18 to win a second-level allowance going six furlongs at Santa Anita.

C Z Rocket missed last year’s Bing Crosby but would go on to win the seven-furlong Pat O’Brien (G2), a “win and you’re in” for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He would instead contest the Breeders' Cup Sprint and  finish second behind champion Whitmore.

In three starts this year, C Z Rocket won the Hot Spring Stakes and Count Fleet Sprint (G3), both at Oaklawn Park, then was second when stretched to two turns in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) at Lone Star Park on May 31.

Also next weekend at Del Mar is the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles Aug. 1. The “win and you’re in” for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff is expected to include eastern invader Shedaresthedevil for Brad Cox and local hopes As Time Goes By for Bob Baffert and the speedy Venetian Harbor for Richard Baltas, among others.

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