Cozee Rags shocks at 88-1 on debut Oct. 15 at Keeneland (Courtney Snow/Past The Wire)
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Twin Oaks Bloodstock’s Cozee Rags will make her stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Demoiselle, a nine-furlong route for juvenile fillies, at Aqueduct Racetrack.
The Demoiselle, which offers 10-5-3-2-1 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-five finishers, is part of a stacked Saturday card headlined by the Grade 2, $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets. Saturday’s program also features the Grade 3, $200,000 Go for Wand and the Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen, offering 10-5-3-2-1 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
Trained by Brian Michael, Cozee Rags, who was purchased for just $15,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, posted an 88-1 upset in her October debut sprinting seven-furlongs at Keeneland.
With Andres Calleja up from post 10, Cozee Rags was eighth in the early stages as Nandina showed the way through splits of 22.48 seconds and 46.20. Cozee Rags advanced willingly outside rivals into the far turn to be third at the stretch call, and responded to right-handed encouragement inside the final sixteenth to draw off to a comfortable win in a final time of 1:25.70.
Michael said Cozee Rags suited the seven-furlong event more so than the shorter sprints offered earlier in the season for 2-year-olds.
“We held back on her a little bit. She was a $15,000 yearling, overlooked because she was long and lean and most people perceived she wouldn’t do early but we had no problem waiting for that particular day at Keeneland,” Michael said. “I figured if there was a hot pace down the backside, which there was, the race could fall apart a little bit on the front end and we could pick up some of the pieces. Now, I was as shocked as everybody else, at 88-1, that she picked up all the pieces that easy.”
The 54-year-old Michael oversees a stable of 10 horses at The Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Kentucky, where Cozee Rags showed promise leading into her debut.
“Her works were good here. We have a deep surface and it really legs one up,” Michael said. “It’s not a racetrack, it’s a conditioning track. Mage was conditioned here to win the Derby and there have been several good horses train over it.
“She was fit and legged up and sound,” Michael added. “She’s just got what I call star quality. She carries herself well. She’s sweet and fiery all at the same time.”
The Union Rags bay followed in a one-mile optional-claiming event traveling one-turn on November 10 at Churchill Downs and finished third in a race won emphatically by Thorpedo Anna, who exited that effort to finish second in Saturday’s Grade 2 Golden Rod.
“She did take a bump out of the gate. It was the same thing at Keeneland. It just takes her awhile to settle in and get her feet under her and build up her momentum,” Michael said. “I don’t think that hurt us too bad, but you always want to establish the best position you can at the break. She was closing – she never quit.”
Cozee Rags exited the effort in good order and has trained well since at The Thoroughbred Center.
“She came out better than she went into it. It was a learning experience – a dress rehearsal – getting her ready to go around two turns, which I haven’t been able to do with her yet,” Michael said.
Cozee Rags has not breezed back out of her most recent effort, but did put in her final serious piece of work Saturday with Michael’s partner, Heather Ferris, at the helm.
“It was an open mile building gallop. Heather worked for Jonathan Sheppard for five years and she’s an ex-steeplechase jockey. When I leg her up on one, she’s gone for a while,” Michael said, with a laugh. “The horse has a tremendous foundation in her, just miles and miles. She never gets sour. She’s very happy and the type of horse you want in your barn.”
Michael, who will saddle his first starter at the Big A, said Cozee Rags will appreciate the added ground in the Demoiselle and the opportunity to travel two turns for the first time.
“I think she’ll show really good tactical speed. She’s smart. She’ll rate, that’s what Heather has taught her. She’ll put her head down and is push button to ride,” Michael said. “The gallop outs were the best part of her breezes – just like her race when she won, she galloped out 10 in front which is why the mile and an eighth is as appealing as it is.”
Bred in Kentucky by Kim Nardelli, Rodney Nardelli and W. S. Farish, Cozee Rags is out of the stakes-placed Cozzene mare Rosee Is Cozee.