The meaning of the Hebrew word chazaq includes to be strong, to prevail, be secure, and is a descriptor of courage. Dutch Masters III’s star juvenile Chazaq has lived up to the meaning of his name, as he prevailed to win the Grade 1, $1,100,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity on Sunday at Los Alamitos.
Ridden by Alejandro Luna, who was winning the Ed Burke Million for the second straight year, Chazaq bobbled at the start, but he recovered in a flash, took the lead and never looked back. Bred by Bobby Cox, the son of Corona Cartel out of the Grade 1 stakes winner All About Ease crossed the wire a half-length ahead of runner-up Worth Doing in a 350-yard time of :17.484. Trained by Jaime Gomez, who was enjoying his fourth victory in the Ed Burke, Chazaq improved his career record to three wins in five career starts. The runner-up in the Kindergarten Futurity on May 15, Chazaq earned $449,400 for the win to take his career earnings to $528,315.
For Dutch Masters III, this was their second win in the Ed Burke. Dr. James Streelman and Denny Boer, who have been best buddies since first grade, won this race with the champion Higher Fire in 2005. A couple of years later, Boer decided to scale back his involvement with Quarter Horses.
“We talk every week,” Streelman said. “I talked to him before the Ruidoso Sale last year and I told him, ‘I think it’s time we partner on a horse again.’ He always had at least one horse with trainer Lin Melton so he’s always been in the game. He told me ‘I have a budget,’ and told me how much it was.’ I said ‘okay.’ I bought three horses that would work with his budget and we liked Chazaq the most. I told him ‘this is the one to partner on.’ We loved his breeding. All About Ease was a great runner and is a great producer, and it’s tough to beat Corona Cartel. I didn’t have drag him back kicking and screaming. I didn’t have to do much to seal the deal. It’s great to say that Dutch Masters III is back.”
Dutch Masters III purchased Chazaq for $42,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.
“It’s crazy to win the Ed Burke Million again,” Boer added. “We did it with Higher Fire in ’05 and here we are again more than 10 years later. I told Doc (Streelman) when he was getting ready for Ruidoso, ‘hey, don’t top the sale at $400,000.’ He told me he would be careful. We knew the family of Chazaq so it was a natural to be partners with this horse.”
Dutch Masters III is back, and so if Streelman, now physically strong and full of chazaq. A few years ago, he was in the hospital dealing with serious heart ailments. Now Streelman has his best friend, Boer, back with Dutch Masters III and they’re thinking of the Golden State Million with Chazaq.
“Hopefully Jaime will train him up to the (Golden State Million) trial on works,” Streelman said. “Maybe we’ll give him a race. It’s no problem to go into the Golden State trials off works. It would be the same thing that we did with Higher Fire.”
After winning the Ed Burke Million, Higher Fire won the Golden State Million and would then finish second in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, still the closest any horse has come to winning the $1 million Los Alamitos Cash Bonanza, the track’s version of the Triple Crown consisting of those three futurities.
Prior to winning the Ed Burke Million, Chazaq posted a tremendous victory in the trials to this race, as he set the fastest qualifying time by more than a quarter of a second. In this race, he bobbled out of the gate, but that was his only minor hiccup in the entire race.
“Chazaq is a solid little horse,” Streelman said. “He does that bobble at the start every time. He did that in the trials, but he came out of it faster.”
“I couldn’t believe what this horse did in the trials,” said Boer of Chazaq’s 1 ¾ length trial win. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. When things go so perfect in the trials you start to get nervous that something is going to go wrong in the final. I couldn’t see the bobble in the final, but I could see that he was in the lead. I saw the outside horse and thought we were going to get caught, but Chazaq didn’t let it happen.”
Instead Chazaq provided trainer Jaime Gomez with his fourth win in the Ed Burke Million. In addition to Higher Fire, Gomez has also won it with champion Carters Cartel in 2007 and with LD Fire in the Ed Burke Million’s only dead-heat for first back in 2009. Luna rode Carters Cartel and LD Fire to victory for Gomez. He also rode champion 2-year-old filly Walk Thru Crystal to victory in last year’s Ed Burke Million.
“Luna is a money rider,” Gomez said. “He’s never scared of a big race. That guy is solid. It’s as simple as that. The bigger the race the better he rides. He’s so cool in the big ones.”
“(Chazaq) didn’t break as fast as he’s done in other races, but he didn’t make any other mistakes,” Luna said of Chazaq in the Ed Burke. “He was gone after 50 yards. I didn’t have to do much. In the Kindergarten when he ran second, it was just bad luck. He bumped the gate before the start and then he leaned back and the gate opened just as he started leaning back. It was just bad luck.”
Higher Fire also lost in the Kindergarten before going on to win the Ed Burke Million and then the Golden State Million. Now it’s Chazaq in the spotlight.
“This horse has a lot of heart,” Gomez said. “He has a lot of class and a lot of heart. We have to thank Bobby Cox because he breeds some good horses.”
Cox is the nation’s leading breeder in earnings with over $1.8 million. He is also the breeder of Grade 1, $1,083,240 Heritage Place Futurity winner Duponte.
Fawna Knight’s Worth Doing, a gelding by Walk Thru Fire out of the Corona Cartel mare Callan Rocks, earned $181,900 for his runner-up effort in the Ed Burke. Trained by Mark Skeen and ridden by Tony Guymon, Worth Doing finished a half-length ahead of third place finisher Lotta Blues Man.
“My horse ran huge, but we just couldn’t catch the winner,” Skeen said. “I’m tickled to death with the way our horse ran. We got beat, that’s all. Chazaq got us. We’ll probably wait until the Golden State Million trials with Worth Doing. He is eligible to run in the Governor’s Cup Futurity trials (on July 9). We’ll look at it.”
Lucky Seven Ranch’s Lotta Blues Man earned $128,400 for his third place finish. Sired by Favorite Cartel, Lotta Blues Man was ridden by Cody Jensen for trainer Mike Casselman. Racy High Roller, Heartbeat, Fire Fast Corona, Cartel Sixes, King Candy, AJS Anna Smoke, and Heza Famous Dasher completed the field.
Balgo Racing Team’s Janes Cartel won the $30,000 Ed Burke Memorial Juvenile by a neck over School Prez. Ridden by Rodolfo Arvizu for trainer Guillermo Morales, the Corona Cartel filly was picking up her third win in four career starts. She earned $16,500 for the win.