Zozos, a 3-year-old colt owned and bred by Barry and Joni Butzow of Eden Prairie, Minn. is undefeated in two starts and now on the Kentucky Derby trail according to his connections. The Kentucky-bred son of Munnings broke his maiden in a six-furlong sprint at Fair Grounds Jan. 23 then stretched out to 1 1/16 miles Feb. 11 at Oaklawn winning an entry-level allowance by 10 1/4 lengths. His trainer Brad Cox, who in 2021 began training several 2-year-olds for the couple, told Bloodhorse.com that Zozos is “going to get one big swing” at making the Derby.
That was confirmed by Barry Butzow who discussed the options with Cox. Under consideration
for Zozos are the March 26 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, the April 2 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn and the April 9 Blue Grass at Keeneland, all rewarding the winner with 100 Derby points, enough to make the field of 20 on the First Saturday in May.
Zozos the colt is named for Zozo’s the restaurant on St. John in the U.S, Virgin Islands owned by John Ferrigno where the Butzows have a property. “He might be more excited than we are,” Barry said, indicating that Ferrigno already purchased Kentucky Derby tickets which in Barry’s mind might be a bit premature. “It’s so early.”
The Butzows have experienced the excitement of the big stage in the past. They owned a talented 3-year-old in 2009 named Hamazing Destiny who broke his maiden by many lengths at first asking at Oaklawn earning a huge speed figure. Interest in that colt was immediate and Barry cut a deal with Westrock Stables and trainer D. Wayne Lukas for a reported seven figures. The Butzows retained a 10 percent interest.
The majority owners intended to jump on the Derby trail immediately. They entered Hamazing Destiny in the Rebel Stakes, but changed those plans after finishing eighth. Hamazing Destiny won five times in his career, raced twice in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and earned $853,008 in 33 starts.
“I had as much fun [with Hamazing Destiny] as I would have had I owned 100 percent,” Barry said.
The Butzows’ goal has not been winning Grade 1 races although that thought is always in the
mind of a breeder and owner. They want to “win state-bred stakes, maybe compete in grade threes” according to Barry and maybe fall into a real good one now and then. The Canterbury Park Hall of Fame couple has done their fair share of winning in Minnesota with homebreds.
“We backed off buying [at auction]and focused on breeding. We spent more on stallions,” Butzow said. “We took our best race mares and made them broodmares.”
Zozos’ dam Papa’s Forest is an indication. She was an auction purchase who raced for the Butzows from 2012 to 2017 before becoming a broodmare.
Barry is also quick to credit veteran horseman Beau Lane who for years has raised their horses at Woodline Farm. “He’s as big a part of this story as anyone,” Butzow said.
“We’re still learning,” he said. “I think we are getting smarter.”
That learning curve could have a huge upward trajectory should Zozos prove up to the test in the coming months.
Photos courtesy of Coady Photography