Barry and Joni Butzow's homebred and 'TDN Rising Star' Zozos (Munnings) took them all the way for an overdue first graded stakes success in Saturday's GIII Ack Ack S., a 'Win and You're In' for the GI Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
The 3-5 favorite set a pressured pace, albeit through very manageable early fractions of :23.69 and :47.10 going a one-turn mile beneath the Twin Spires. He let it out a notch as they straightened for home and held Justify (Scat Daddy)'s half-brother and 'Rising Star' Stage Raider (Pioneerof the Nile) safe by a length. Three Technique (Mr Speaker) completed the 'Rising Star' trifecta.
Zozos, a strong second at just third asking in the 2022 GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, reeled off three straight wins earlier this term, including the Knicks Go S. over this same track and trip May 6 and the Hanshin S. at Ellis Park July 2. He was a disappointing fourth as the heavy favorite going 1 1/16 miles around two turns in Monmouth's GIII Philip H. Iselin S. last time Aug. 19.
“I didn't think he would get away with that easy of an early lead,” winning trainer Brad Cox said. “I thought Florent (Geroux) did a good job to not let Caddo River (Hard Spun) get too close on his outside. He's run well this year and trained well out of his last race at Monmouth.”
Cox continued, “I think he's now a really good one-turn horse. We'll see who's going where in the Breeders' Cup and make a decision on his next start soon. I don't know what we'd do if we don't go to the Breeders' Cup, but we'll let this horse tell us what's next. It's a lot to ask of any horse to make the trip from Kentucky to California against some of the best horses in the world.”
Zozos becomes the 27th graded stakes winner for Munnings. Forestry is now the broodmare sire of 27 graded winners as well. The Butzows acquired the dam of Zozos for $57,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September and raced her to nine victories and eight minor placings from 32 starts for earnings north of $233,000. Papa's Forest had a colt by Candy Ride (Arg) in 2023 and was bred back to Jackie's Warrior.
Saturday, Churchill Downs
ACK ACK S.-GIII, $400,000, Churchill Downs, 9-30, 3yo/up, 1m, 1:35.32, ft.
1–ZOZOS, 121, c, 4, by Munnings
1st Dam: Papa's Forest, by Forestry
2nd Dam: Dixie Sue, by Dixieland Band
3rd Dam: Barbara Sue, by Big Spruce
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. O/B-Barry Butzow & Joni Butzow (KY); T-Brad H. Cox; J-Florent Geroux. $242,280. Lifetime Record: 11-7-1-0, $882,688. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Stage Raider, 121, h, 5, Pioneerof the Nile–Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($950,000 RNA Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-John D. Gunther; B-John D. Gunther (KY); T-Cherie DeVaux. $78,800.
3–Three Technique, 121, h, 6, Mr Speaker–Nite in Rome, by Harlan's Holiday. ($50,000 Wlg '17 KEENOV; $180,000 Ylg '18 FTKJUL; $47,000 RNA 4yo '21 KEENOV). O-Miller, David E., Grindley, Eric and Werner, John; B-Omega Farm LLC & Bally Breeders (KY); T-Jason G. Cook. $39,400.
Margins: 1, 1, 5 1/4. Odds: 0.77, 6.70, 4.25.
Also Ran: O Besos, Caddo River, Seize the Night, Skyro.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuelTV.
#5 ZOZOS wins the (G3) 🏆 Ack Ack Stakes under @flothejock at @ChurchillDowns and earns his spot in the @BreedersCup Dirt Mile. This son of Munnings is trained by @bradcoxracing and owned and bred by Barry and Joni Butzow. #WAYI pic.twitter.com/r5nZeIAaVZ
— TVG (@TVG) September 30, 2023