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Closing Day Stakes Recaps: Zozos Thunders Home to Front-Running Victory in Hanshin Stakes


Contact: Kevin Kerstein
Kentucky Racing Communications
Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Turfway Park
(610) 420-6971 (mobile)
(502) 635-4712 (office)

HENDERSON, Ky. (Sunday, July 2, 2023) – Barry and Joni Butzow’s Zozos stormed home to a front-running three-length victory in Sunday’s featured 68th running of the $275,000 Hanshin Stakes (Listed) at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.

    Zozos splashed one-mile in 1:35.73 over the “sloppy” surface. Florent Geroux was aboard Zozos for trainer Brad Cox.

    The skies opened up almost as soon as the gates broke for the Hanshin Stakes but Zozos was unfazed by the falling rain and completed a quarter-mile of :23.11. The speedy Zozos continued up the backside through a half-mile time of :45.92. Into the stretch, Zozos remained unchallenged and comfortably kicked clear to a three-length victory over War Campaign and Warrior Johny.

    “We tried to keep it very simple and when he broke alertly the way he did we just kept him on the lead,” Geroux said. “He handled things pretty easily from there. He’s got some good speed and stamina but I think he’s much better at this one-mile distance.”

“He’s really liked this distance at either a one-turn mile or this one-and-a-half turn configuration here at Ellis,” Cox said. “I almost took him to Belmont for (Saturday’s) the John Nerud Stakes but I’m glad we stayed here. He’s been very good to us and I’m very thankful for Barry and Joni Butzow for allowing us to manage him the way we have.” 

Zozos’ impressive record now stands at 9-6-1-0 with purse earnings of $627,908.

Zozos is a 4-year-old colt by Munnings out of the Forestry mare Papa’s Forest. He was bred in Kentucky by his owners.

Here is the complete order of finish for the Hanshin Stakes (with $2 mutuel payouts)

1. Zozos ($3.62, $3.08, $2.44)
2. War Campaign (X, $11.50, $5.32)
3. Warrior Johny (X, X, $3.30)
4. Santin
    5. Seize the Night
    6. Strava
    7. Collaborate  

    The traditional Ellis Park meet will commence Friday with a first post of 11:45 a.m. (CDT). 

    For more information about the Ellis Park racing season, visit 

BRIGHTWORK LEADS ALL THE WAY IN $225,000 DEBUTANTE – WSS Racing’s Brightwork remained undefeated after taking the field of 2-year-old fillies wire-to-wire in Sunday’s 122nd running of the $225,000 Debutante at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.

    Brightwork is trained by John Ortiz and was ridden to victory by Luis Saez. The precocious daughter of Outwork completed six furlongs in 1:09.79.

    Saez hustled Brightwork out of the starting gate and she quickly took command of the Debutante Stakes. A few jumps after the break, Brightwork was joined to her outside by City Ghost. They completed an opening quarter-mile fraction :22.58. Around the far turn, Brightwork continued to stay strong on the lead while City Ghost began to fade. However, she had to fend off a three-wide bid from heavy favorite V V’s Dream. Brightwork was able to keep V V’s Dream in deep stretch and score a half-length victory.

    Brightwork is now a perfect 2-for-2 and Ortiz stated following the race she could either stay here at Ellis Park or travel north to Saratoga.

    “Right now we’re going to continue with the program for this year,” Ortiz said. “We mapped out her races and could either stay here at Ellis Park or go to Saratoga. … The last two months we prepared her for today. She showed her skills today. I was surprised when she won on debut because I wasn’t sure how ready she was to run. Today, she was really ready to go.”

    “We had a perfect position on the lead,” Saez said. “She put herself into the race and John (Ortiz) and his team had her ready to go. I think she’s shown a lot of talent in just two starts.”

    Here is the complete order of finish for the Debutante Stakes (with $2 mutuel returns):
    1. Brightwork ($6.56, $2.38, $2.10)
    2. V V’s Dream (X, $2.10, $2.10)
    3. Easy Red (X, X, $2.94)
    4. City Ghost

THE WINE STEWARD RALLIES TO WIN $225,000 BASHFORD MANOR – Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher’s New York-bred The Wine Steward rallied from just off the pace and powered home for a 2 ¾-length score in Sunday’s 122nd running of the $225,000 Bashford Manor (Listed) at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.

    The Wine Steward completed six furlongs in 1:10.06 under jockey Luis Saez. He is trained by Mike Maker.

    Go Otto Go was hustled hard for the lead out of the gate with fellow speedster Call Me Andy joining him to his outside. The Wine Steward was positioned third in the early stages of the Bashford Manor, about three lengths off the pace. The dueling leaders completed an opening quarter-mile in :22.20 and half-mile in :45.24. At the top of the lane, The Wine Steward was positioned three wide as Go Otto Go and Call Me Andy began to tire on the lead. The Wine Steward kicked powerfully towards the wire and was able to hold a late bid of Wilson Q at bay.

    “I was looking at his replay last time and he was able to break and be behind horses,” Saez said. “I think with some more distance he’ll really like it. I really loved the way he came home. The plan was always to be behind the speed. We knew he’d have a big turn of foot and he did.”

    The Wine Steward is now a perfect 2-for-2 in his young career with purse earnings of $164,010.

    The Wine Steward is a 2-year-old colt by Vino Rosso out of the To Honor and Serve mare Call to Service. He was bred in New York by Sequel Thoroughbreds, Lakland Farm and Mark Toothaker.

    Here is the complete order of finish for the Bashford Manor (with $2 mutuel payouts):
    1. The Wine Steward ($6.44, $4.22, $2.54)
    2. Wilson Q (X, $3.08, $2.34)
    3. Call Me Andy (X, X, $2.94)
    4. Go Otto Go
    5. Magical Mark
    6. Unified Point 

RYVIT WIRES FIELD IN $175,000 MAXFIELD OVERNIGHT STAKES – Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Ryvit took a field of seven 3-year-olds wire-to-wire to win his fourth-consecutive race in Sunday’s 2nd running of the $175,000 Maxfield Stakes at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.

    Ryvit splashed home over the “sloppy” surface in 1:22.23 for seven furlongs. He was ridden to victory by Cristian Torres and trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen.

Ryvit broke from the inside post in the Maxfield and was joined to his outside by Squire Creek. The duo completed a sharp opening quarter-mile in :21.99. Around the far turn, Ryvit shook clear of his pace-pressing rival through a swift half-mile time in :44.70. In the stretch, Ryvit kicked home for a comfortable three-length margin over a closing Mullikin, who could only manage a second-best effort.

    “He’s a very nice horse and his form shows it winning his last four races,” Torres said. “The track has been favoring towards speed and this horse also didn’t mind the off track in the past. I was confident if we were able to break sharply that we’d have a good chance. He did that and really handled everything well.”

    “He’s another very fast sprinter for Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt,” Asmussen’s chief assistant trainer Scott Blasi said. “I wasn’t too worried about the track condition, just so he broke well coming out of the inside post. He did and ran a really super race.”

    Ryvit improved his lifetime mark to 8-5-1-1 and boosted his purse earnings to $452,604. Ryvit is a son of Competitive Edge out of the Medaglia d’Oro mare She Is Bedazzling. He was bred by Curt Leake in Kentucky. 

    Here is the full order of finish for the Maxfield Overnight Stakes (with $2 mutuel returns):

    1. Ryvit ($6.80, $4.18, $3.16)
    2. Mullikin (X, $4.54, $3.02)
    3. Squire Creek (X, X, $3.30)
    4. Damon’s Mound
    5. Frosted Departure
    6. Tumbarumba
    7. Gunflash

FAST AS FLIGHT HOLDS HFF HEAVY FAVORITE WHITE FROST TO WIN $175,000 ANCHORAGE OVERNIGHT STAKES – Susan and Jim Hill’s Fast as Flight held off a late charge of 1-5 favorite White Frost to win Sunday’s 2nd running of $175,000 Anchorage Overnight Stakes at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.

    Fast as Flight completed one-mile over the “yielding” turf course in 1:38. Jockey Luis Saez rode Fast as Flight to victory for trainer Brian Lynch. 

    Lady Hideaway set the early fractions of the Anchorage while Fast as Flight sat second through an opening quarter-mile of :24.77. Up the backside, Lady Hideaway continued to rate on the front end while Fast as Flight tracked her every move in second. Around the far turn, Fast as Flight moved to the outside of Lady Hideaway while favored White Frost started her charge at the inside. In deep stretch, Fast as Flight got by Lady Hideway and kicked clear of the closing White Frost for a 2 ¼-length victory.

    Fast as Flight is a 5-year-old mare by Air Force Blue out of the Tiznow mare Tiznow Peace. She was bred in Kentucky by Pursuit of Success.

    Here are the results for the Anchorage Overnight Stakes (with $2 payouts):

    1. Fast as Flight ($9.36, $2.68, $2.20)
    2. White Frost (X, $2.24, $2.10)
    3. Lady Hideaway (X, X, $3.46)
    4. Napa Candy
    5. Contemporary Art      
Ellis Park, Racking and Gaming (“Ellis Park”) located north of the Ohio River and just south of Evansville, Indiana, has been the home of summer Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky for over 100 years. Ellis Park also features a gaming entertainment venue with approximately 300 historical racing machines.