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Southwind Ozzi Wins The Little Brown Jug

Published: September 19, 2019 10:13 am ET

Last Comment: September 19, 2019 4:23 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In what was almost a carbon copy of his opening-heat performance, Southwind Ozzi propelled off of a ranging, first-over move and went on to capture the $384,000 final of the 2019 Little Brown Jug on Thursday (Sept. 19) at Ohio’s Delaware County Fair.

The son of Somebeachsomewhere bested the Brett Miller-driven Fast N First and nailed the wire in 1:50.1. American Mercury and driver Tyler Buter finished third. Semi Tough (Matt Kakaley) and Air Force Hanover (Simon Allard) picked up the last two purse cheques, respectively.

After having snared his opening-heat elim in 1:50.3, the Bill MacKenzie-trained Southwind Ozzi essentially utilized the exact same approach in the final. Sears launched Southwind Ozzi first-up from fourth in the second quarter of the race, paced alongside the leader on the engine, and pulled away in the final quarter before sealing the deal.

"He's a good horse and he gives me a lot of confidence when I drive him,” Sears said afterward. “I know I've got a lot of options during a race...I don't have to be stuck with one plan, and he proved it today. He got around the half-mile track great and roughed it first-over both trips and got it done convincingly."

Southwind Ozzi started from Post 1, but didn’t leave all that much. Instead, Sears opted to watch from fourth in the early going as Fast N First and Stag Party (David Miller) took turns on the lead in the first panel. After having looped to the lead, it was Stag Party that led the field past the quarter pole, which was passed in :26.2.

Sears asked Southwind Ozzi to race first up as the field passed the grandstand for the first time. Sears and ‘Ozzi’ began their journey to the front early in the homestretch and were up by the leaders as Stag Party spun off the opening half in :54.3.

Southwind Ozzi continued to advance on the outer tier in the third quarter of the race and was alongside Stag Party as the three-quarters timer flashed to life in 1:22.1. Then, just as he did in the opening heat, Sears asked Southwind Ozzi for pace, and the colt fully obliged.

Southwind Ozzi looked good as he came through the lane and went on to nail the wire with relative ease.

In the winner’s circle, Roger Huston commented to MacKenzie that it seems that Sears fits Southwind Ozzi like a glove. "I was thinking it's your race calling," deadpanned the winning trainer, who was acknowledging the fact that his colt is unbeaten in seven starts with Huston as the announcer. "He's just been great, he's just a great horse and that's what they do."

After counting the spoils from the 74th edition of the Little Brown Jug, Southwind Ozzi has now won nine of his 11 races this season, including the $400,000 Adios at the Meadows. The cool $248,000 Delaware payday has boosted Southwind Ozzi’s seasonal bankroll to $728,935. Career-wise, Southwind Ozzi has now won 10 of his 18 starts and earned $763,263 in purses.

Southwind Ozzi is owned by Vincent Ali Jr. (of Old Bridge, NJ) and Alma Iafelice (Cranbury, NJ). Ali was clearly relishing the moment in the winner’s circle.

"He's awesome, he's outstanding,” Ali said of Southwind Ozzi. “Billy did a great job and Brian drives him unbelievable. They get all the credit."

When Huston asked if Southwind Ozzi is the No. 1 colt in harness racing, Ali replied, "in my opinion, yes."

MacKenzie was asked where Southwind Ozzi will head from here. "We'll figure that out tomorrow, or the next day or so,” said MacKenzie, adding, “that's how I've been doing it, so I'm not going to change it now."

Southwind Ozzi’s achievements this season have not been lost on Sears, who stated, "I can say when you win the Adios and the Little Brown Jug, those are two of my biggest accomplishments in racing, those are really sought-after races. He's able to get me two of those races...he's got a big spot in my heart, I guess."

FAST N FIRST UPSETS; JUG FINAL SET

Blake MacIntosh had a hunch that Fast N First could compete with the horses that would enter the 2019 Little Brown Jug, and the second elimination showed that he was 100 percent right. In the final stride of the mile, Fast N First got up to nose out favoured American Mercury to win the second $128,000 elimination and solidify the field for the $384,000 final.

The race started with some hot early fractions as Semi Tough (Matt Kakaley) and Arties Ideal (Marcus Miller) sizzling to a :25.4 opening quarter. Semi Tough forced Arties Ideal into the pocket and then faced the serious threat of favoured American Mercury. Kakaley yielded and allowed Tyler Buter to land the Messenger winner on the lead in a sharp :53.3 half.

With Escapetothebeach racing first up and not advancing to challenge, Brett Miller angled Fast N First three-wide down the backside. Clearing Escapetothebeach, Fast N First couldn't drop down to the two path as Arties Ideal popped back out from third to forge first-up through a 1:21.2 third station. American Mercury maintained his lead around the final turn and turning for home, but the pressure was on from the three next best. It appeared that American Mercury would hold off his rivals but Miller was able to get an extra gear out of Fast N First and help the colt live up to his name by getting his nose on the wire in a lifetime best 1:50.2. American Mercury, Arties Ideal and Semi Tough also advanced to the final.

"This is very exciting and it's a race I've always wanted to win," said an elated Miller in the winner's circle. "I felt like the race was definitely setting up for us. Blake told me to be sure to keep this horse's attention, and when I made the move up the backside he was very strong but going into the last turn he actually -- just being a colt -- kind of pulled up on me and it cost us a lot of ground. For him to come back on and win, that was strong."

Fast N First is owned by trainer Macintosh along with Ontario's Ridgeway Racing of Ridgeway and Steve Heimbecker of Conestogo. The horse picked up his eighth win of the series and fourth straight. The lion's share of the purse pushed his seasonal bankroll to $162,909.

"I really wasn't nervous going in," said MacIntosh. "This year I was just hoping to make the final and have some fun. Now we've got a little pressure on us."

MacIntosh is poised to win the Jug in back-to-back years, with two totally different back stories coming into the race. Despite not having a Courtly Choice this year, he felt Fast N First belonged with this group.

"I thought he'd be right there. I wasn't sure if he could win it but when I saw the draw I was pretty happy with the division we came out in. He's just been a good little colt...he's won eight times this year, and we've protected him pretty good all summer and haven't really raced him over his head. He came out and proved today he's a nice little colt."

After the second elimination, the posts for the final were drawn.

2019 Little Brown Jug Final ($384,000)
(Post – Horse – Driver)
1 – Southwind Ozzi – Brian Sears
2 – Fast N First – Brett Miller
3 – Air Force Hanover – Simon Allard
4 – American Mercury – Tyler Buter
5 – Stag Party – David Miller
6 – Arties Ideal – Marcus Miller (SCRATCHED)
7 – Semi Tough – Matt Kakaley
8 – Shake That House – Tim Tetrick (SCRATCHED)

SOUTHWIND OZZI SOLID IN JUG’S OPENING HEAT

The first of the $128,000 opening-heat eliminations took to the track for Race 15, and after some wild festivities in the opening turn, the Bill MacKenzie-trained and Brian Sears-driven Southwind Ozzi ($2.40) paced to a wrapped-up, first-over win in 1:50.3.

The majority of the field was scattered in the first turn when the Yannick Gingras-driven De Los Cielos Deo went on wild break. After the brief chaos, the Tim Tetrick-driven Shake The House was first down to the quarter pole (:27.1) and the half-mile indicator (:55).

Sears, who had been sitting in third with Southwind Ozzi, called on his charge in the homestretch, as the duo tipped out for a first-over advance on Shake The House. Southwind Ozzi ranged up alongside Shake That House past the 1:22.2 three-quarters marker and along the final turn.

Sears asked Southwind Ozzi to go at the head of the lane and the Somebeachsomewhere colt responded in full. He surged past Southwind Ozzi and was well within himself as he hit the wire in 1:50.3, which equalled the national season’s mark for the division over a half-mile track.

The Simon Allard-driven Air Force Hanover, who had raced second-over through the back half of the mile, finished second, while the David Miller-driven Stag Party finished third. The fourth-place finisher, Shake That House, also advanced to the Jug final.

When asked to comment on the mile, Sears started by giving some praise to Gingras, who had a lot on his plate with an uncooperative De Los Cielos Deo. "Yannick's horse went off stride and I thought he did a good job keeping him upright and not taking up too much track,” said Sears, who added, “we were all able to get around him pretty easily.”

Given everything that had occurred in the first turn, Sears was happy with the outcome at that point. “I was confident with the three-hole spot and coming first up,” said Sears. “The horse [didn’t] mind it and I was confident from that position on."

Southwind Ozzi fired for Sears when he asked. Sears explained that he expected nothing less. "He's been there for us all year and he showed up again today, so we're really happy with the effort he put out today."

MacKenzie echoed Sears’ sentiments in the winner’s circle and stated that he wasn’t worried about having to race two heats with Southwind Ozzi. “He comes out of every race extremely well...I'm not worried a little bit."

Southwind Ozzi is owned by Vincent Ali Jr. (Old Bridge, NJ) and Alma Iafelice (Cranbury, NJ).


Anticipation for the Jug started to ramp up on Wednesday (Sept. 18) at the fair, as Ontario-bred Warrawee Ubeaut put on a world-class display in the Jug’s sister event, the Jugette for sophomore pacing fillies. The Ron Burke-trained and Yannick Gingras-driven daughter of Sweet Lou was a dominant winner in the contest, as she won with a world record effort. For a complete recap, click here.

The action at the Standardbred industry’s fastest half-mile racecourse kicked off Thursday at 11:00 a.m. with the $5,000 final of the Hall of Fame and Museum Amateur Racing Series. The dash was won by the Hannah Miller-driven Inukchuk Chuck ($5.60), who drew off after a parked-out mile to win in 1:56.1. The 20-dash regular program then commenced shortly thereafter.

Besides the Little Brown Jug races for three-year-old pacers, the undercard offered a variety of stakes action. The stakes included divisions of the Standardbred for two-year-olds, multiple splits of the Ohio Breeders Championships, the Old Oaken Bucket for three-year-old trotting colts, and the $100,000 final of the Miss Versatility for female trotters.


PLUNGE BLUE CHIP PREVAILS IN MISS VERSATILITY

Favoured Plunge Blue Chip made every call a winning one in capturing the $100,000 final of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Leaving from post three in the field of seven, trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt floated Plunge Blue Chip beside Emoticon Hanover (Dan Dube) before clearing to the lead before a :27.2 opening quarter. Plunge Blue Chip backed down the tempo and stole a 29-second quarter to reach the half in :56.2 before facing the stout challenge of Custom Cantab (Aaron Merriman).

The intensity picked up to start the second lap as Plunge Blue Chip and Custom Cantab raced almost as a tandem down the backstretch. With a 1:23.4 third station, those two trotting titans would not give in until the final turn when Custom Cantab lost a few strides on the leader. Plunge Blue Chip looked to have put the first-over challenger away but then faced a threat to her inside with Emoticon Hanover. Dube tried to angle Emoticon Hanover up the inside but two things prevented a late surge to the wire: a lack of room, and the will of Plunge Blue Chip, who hit the wire a neck the best in 1:52.1. Custom Cantab came back on in the stretch and was just nosed out by Emoticon Hanover to finish third.

"She was great today, it was a big mile, :52 here on the half-mile track," said Svanstedt. "Her last three races, she feels good and I hope she can still race good this year."

Svanstedt, who wasn't worried when Custom Cantab came to challenge, said that Plunge Blue Chip's next start would come at The Red Mile in Lexington.

Plunge Blue Chip (Muscle Mass - Dunk The Donato) is owned Ake Svanstedt Inc. of Wrightstown, N.J., Blue Chip Bloodstock Inc. of Wallkill, N.Y. and Tomas Andersson of Nossebro, Sweden. The win was just the second of the year for the world champion trotter but her 19th lifetime, and it lifted her purse earnings to $1,175,784.

WIGGLE IT JIGGLEIT RETURNS!

After having not participated in a pari-mutuel race in three years, 2015 Little Brown Jug winner Wiggle It Jiggle It returned to the scene of what was arguably his greatest triumph… read on.

OSTERC OUTLASTS FOES IN THE OLD OAKEN BUCKET

After having inherited the lead in the opening quarter of the Old Oaken Bucket (Race 8), the Per Engblom-trained and Yannick Gingras-driven Osterc ($3.60) refused to give up the point, as he went on to post a narrow victory in 1:54.4 in the $95,425 clash for three-year-old male trotters. Osterc, a son of Cantab Hall, was in the two-hole early, but he was given the lead when Union Forces made a break while on the point. After inheriting the top spot, Osterc went on to cut the fractions (:28.4, :58.3, 1:26) and hold on for a neck win. Mass Fortune K, who had taken a ground-saving trip trough the fractions, tried to sneak up the pylons late, but just ran out of real estate. Summit In Sight, who had raced first-up on the way home, was a close third when all was said and done.

Osterc, a bay colt, has now won four of his 13 seasonal starts and nine of his 20 career races. Osterc races for the ownership connections of Christina Takter (East Windsor, NJ) and Goran Falk (Allentown, NJ).

WORTHY OF HONOUR WIRES UP STANDARDBRED FOES

The second of the program’s Standardbred splits for two-year-olds took to the track for Race 4, and it was the Julie Miller-trained and Andy Miller-driven Worthy Of Honor ($6.60) that captured the $47,100 contest for freshman trotting colts and geldings. The bay colt by Cantab Hall—Honorable Daughter started from Post 5, made every call a winning one (:28.2, :58, 1:27), and went on to stop the clock in 1:56.4. The $90,000 Lexington Selected yearling caught a bit of a break in the third quarter when the first-up Emma Town Bud ran during his move for the lead. Worthy Of Honor was followed home by Moveoutofmyway K and Altus Hanover, who finished second and third, respectively. Worthy Of Honor, who has now won two of his nine career starts, is owned by Andy Miller Stable Inc. (Millstone Township, NJ), Jean Goehlen (Aurora, I), and Louis Willinger (Louisville, KY).

BIG BRUSH BY TRU LOU IN THE STANDARDBRED

Stakes action kicked off in Race 1, as the Ron Burke-trained and Matt Kakaley-driven Tru Lou ($6.80) utilized a big brush in the third quarter to soar to a 1:55.2 victory in the $48,100 Standardbred for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings. The gelded son of Sweet Lou—Real Touch sat third through the quarter (:28.1) and opening half (:57.3) before showing his class to the field. Kakaley sent Tru Lou first-up after the half and acquired the lead just before the 1:26.2 three quarter flashed to life. The bay cruised to victory from there on out and nailed the wire in 1:55.2. Complete Kaos, who had cut the opening half, finished five lengths back in second, while Caviart Revere finished third. Tru Lou has now won two of his seven career starts for owners Burke Racing Stable LLC (Fredericktown, PA), Knox Services Inc. (Mt Vernon, OH), Slaughter Racing Stb LLC (Prospect, KY) and Weaver Bruscemi LLC (Canonsburg, PA).


September 19, 2019 - 4:23 pmThe favorite in next years

Mike Mobley SAID...

The favorite in next years Jug might well have been the winner of today's 9th race, for Ohio bred 2yo colts and geldings. Burke Racing Stables' Elver Hanover is now unbeaten in 7 starts and has earned $288,000. A 1:51.2 mile by a 2yo on a half - mile track is impressive in itself, but Northfield Park was a sloppy mess when he won there in that time on Sept. 1.


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