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    Ozzi to shine in USA major Ozzi to shine in USA major

    SOUTHWIND OZZI - Photo Chris Gooden

    THE late Anthony Iafelice and Vincent Ali, who passed away in 2017 and 2013, never owned a horse like Southwind Ozzi. But family members... Ozzi to shine in USA major

    THE late Anthony Iafelice and Vincent Ali, who passed away in 2017 and 2013, never owned a horse like Southwind Ozzi.

    But family members feel their presence as they enjoy the ride with one of the favourites in today’s $640,000 Little Brown Jug.

    Iafelice and Ali were friends, sharing a love of horses and harness racing.

    Iafelice’s grandson, Bill MacKenzie, began training horses for Ali a number of years ago and now MacKenzie conditions Southwind Ozzi for his grandmother, Alma Iafelice, and Vincent Ali junior.

    Southwind Ozzi enters the 74th Little Brown Jug, presented by the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio, with seven wins from nine starts this year for a bankroll of $480,935.

    His victories include the Adios and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Final. He is the 8-5 morning-line favourite in the first of two $128,000 Little Brown Jug eliminations, with Brian Sears set to take the drive.

    “This is a first for everybody,” MacKenzie said. “My grandparents owned a couple nice horses, but nothing like him. It’s great.

    “This is what anybody who buys a yearling or buys a horse is aiming to do. This is what we do it for.

    “Unfortunately, (my grandfather) is not here to see this, but I’m sure he’s looking down.”

    Ali junior echoed the trainer’s sentiment.

    “My dad never had anything like this either,” Junior said. “I wish he was alive to see it. He’d be going crazy right now.

    “That was his dream, to have a horse like this. He’s the reason I do this…he got me involved.”

    The Little Brown Jug is the third jewel in the Triple Crown for three-year-old pacers, following the Cane Pace and Messenger Stakes.

    Captain Crunch won the Cane but is not entered in the Jug.

    Messenger winner American Mercury, one of three Jug entrants from the stable of trainer Chris Oakes, is the 5-2 favourite in the second Jug elimination.

    The top-four finishers from each elimination return later in the day for the $384,000 Final.

    Southwind Ozzi, a son of Somebeachsomewhere, was purchased as a yearling for $85,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale.

    He was the only horse MacKenzie bought that year for his grandmother and Ali junior.

    As a two-year-old, Southwind Ozzi won once and finished second on four occasions.

    He was the public elect in the Kindergarten Classic Series Championship last November but was derailed by sickness and finished 10th.

    He began this season with three wins and a second before being sidelined for nearly two months because of emergency hernia surgery.

    He returned in July to capture the Adios.

    “He missed six weeks, but you know what, in hindsight maybe that’s helped him,” Junior said. “Maybe it’s kept him fresh in a sense. He’s racing real well now.”

    Junior hoped Southwind Ozzi would have a good season, particularly in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes, but tried to temper his expectations beyond that.

    “My expectations weren’t going to the Jug, that’s for sure,” said Junior, who is a contractor in New York City.

    “Who would have ever thought?

    “It’s not too often you get a horse like him. It’s never been for me, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good time.

    “This has exceeded my expectations by far.”

    Southwind Ozzi will start from post four in his Jug elimination. The division also includes Hempt Memorial winner Shake That House, which is the 2-1 second choice.

    “I just do what I have to do, and I leave the rest up to Brian,” MacKenzie said, referring to driver Sears, who won the Little Brown Jug in 2013 with Vegas Vacation.

    “That’s what I do with any race. I don’t tell him what to do.”

    First Elimination

    PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML

    1-Caviart Rockland-Dexter Dunn-Nancy Johansson-12/1

    2-De Los Cielos Deo-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-6/1

    3-Shake That House-Tim Tetrick-Chris Oakes-2/1

    4-Southwind Ozzi-Brian Sears-Bill MacKenzie-8/5

    5-Air Force Hanover-Simon Allard-Rene Allard-8/1

    6-U S Captain-Jason Bartlett-Tony Alagna-12/1

    7-Stag Party-David Miller-Casie Coleman-15/1

     

    Second Elimination

    PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML

    1-Semi Tough-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-9/2

    2-Lyons Johnnyjnr-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr.-9/2

    3-Quatrain Blue Chip-Aaron Merriman-Chris Oakes-6/1

    4-Artie’s Ideal-Marcus Miller-Erv Miller-7/2

    5-Fast N First-Brett Miller-Blake MacIntosh-12/1

    6-Spectrum-Andy Miller-Nick Surick-25/1

    7-American Mercury-Tyler Buter-Chris Oakes-5/2

    8-Escapetothebeach-Joe Bongiorno-Tony Alagna-10/1

    • KEN WEINGARTNER

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