Delaware, OH — After using a sustained first-over drive to win his elimination earlier in the day, Southwind Ozzi and driver Brian Sears came back with nearly a carbon copy effort to capture the $384,000 Little Brown Jug final for 3-year-old male pacers Thursday (Sept. 19) at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
Southwind Ozzi won the final by 1-3/4 lengths over Fast N First in 1:50.1. American Mercury finished third.
The victory gave Sears his second Jug trophy. He won his first with Vegas Vacation in 2013. It was the first Jug victory for trainer Bill MacKenzie and owners Alma Iafelice, who is MacKenzie’s grandmother, and Vincent Ali Jr.
“He’s awesome; he’s outstanding,” Ali Jr. said about Southwind Ozzi, who won for the ninth time in 11 races this year and upped his season’s earnings to $736,935. “Billy did a great job and Brian drives him unbelievable. They get all the credit.”
Southwind Ozzi won his Jug elimination in 1:50.3, besting Air Force Hanover by 2-3/4 lengths. The colt got away third before methodically wearing down pacesetter Shake That House and cruising to victory.
In the final, Southwind Ozzi was fourth in the opening quarter-mile before beginning his first-over march at the three-eighths point. He was a nose from leader Stag Party when they reached three-quarters and pulled away from there to secure the victory in the third jewel of Pacing’s Triple Crown.
“He’s a good horse and he gives me a lot of confidence when I drive him,” Sears said. “I know I’ve got a lot of options during the race. I don’t have to be stuck with one plan. He proved it today. He got around the half-mile track great and roughed first over both trips and got it done convincingly.”
Southwind Ozzi’s triumphs this season include the Adios and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. Sears said he could not say where the colt ranked among the horses he’s driven in his Hall of Fame career.
“But I can say, you win the Adios and the Little Brown Jug, those are two of the biggest accomplishments in racing, really sought-after races,” Sears said. “He was able to get me those races and he’s got a big spot in my heart.”
Southwind Ozzi was the 2-5 favorite in the Little Brown Jug final.
Following the Jug, Southwind Ozzi is staked to the Simpson Memorial at Harrah’s Philadelphia on Sept. 29. He is not eligible to the Tattersalls Pace or Breeders Crown in October but could be supplemented to those events. But those are decisions for another day.
“We’ll figure that out tomorrow or the next day or so,” MacKenzie said. “That’s how I’ve been doing it, so I’m not going to change it now.”
Southwind Ozzi, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of Southwind Solara, was purchased as a yearling for $85,000 at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale. The Southwind Farms-bred colt was the only horse MacKenzie bought that year for his grandmother and Ali Jr.
He began this season with three wins and a second-place finish before being sidelined for nearly two months because of emergency hernia surgery. He returned in July and captured the Adios. His win in the Jug final was his fourth in a row.
“He’s just been great,” MacKenzie said. “He’s just a great horse, and that’s what they do.”
Click here to read the recap of the elimination races.