Thanks, Cozzene - by Sean Feld

The passing of Cozzene Oct. 8 made me reflect on what my life would have been without our “introduction” when I was young. His presence has been a constant thread throughout my life, beginning when I was about 3 years old. When most kids were watching “Sesame Street,” my dad would keep me occupied by putting in videotapes of past Breeders’ Cups. My favorite Breeders’ Cup to watch was the one held at Aqueduct Nov. 2, 1985.

Some of racing’s greats were on hand that day. The roster of horses that competed included Pebbles, Gate Dancer, Turkoman, Precisionist, Storm Cat, and Lady’s Secret. However, the one I will always remember most was the winner of the Mile (gr. IT), Cozzene. I think what caught my eye at that time was his color. What kid doesn’t love a gray horse? I would watch his race over and over and root for him in the stretch every time. While growing up, family and friends who were into racing would often ask me who my favorite horse and jockey were. I would reply enthusiastically with, “Cozzeeeeeene and Kiss McCarron!” That would always draw a chuckle from the questioning adult.

A few years later, my father, Bob, went to work for Team Valor and helped sell ownership shares in a horse named Star of Cozzene. Included in that ownership were John and Jerry Amerman. In 1991, Star of Cozzene ran third in the same race his sire had won years earlier. He then went on to win the 1993 Arlington Million (gr. IT), and in the process earned more than $2.3 million.

Due in part to the success of Star of Cozzene, the Amermans decided to start a stable of their own and called my dad for advice on their new venture. With a plan in place, my dad attended a yearling sale at Keeneland in 1995 with trainer Ron Ellis in search of a few yearlings that would become the start of Amerman Racing. Wouldn’t you know that in that first crop they bought a colt by Cozzene. The Amermans named him Another Star, a tribute to Star of Cozzene. Another Star went on to earn nearly a quarter-million dollars, and he broke a track record at Hollywood Park with “Kiss” McCarron aboard.

By the age of 9, I had learned how to read the Daily Racing Form. With my new hobby firmly in place I handicapped the entire card for the 1996 Breeders’ Cup at Woodbine. I picked one horse per race and my dad bet $2 to win on each selection.

Watching the races on TV turned out to be tedious for me that day, as a majority of my picks finished second or third. Not one had been able to get to the wire first…that is, until the Classic (gr. I), where Cigar was the odds-on favorite. Once again, Cozzene came into my life. My pick: Alphabet Soup, a son of Cozzene who was also very eye-catching, and was also ridden by “Kiss” McCarron. Turning for home, the nearly white Alphabet Soup hit the front and held off the charge of Louis Quatorze and Cigar to pay $41.70, a small fortune for a 9-year-old.

This past summer, Cozzene came into my life again when I took an internship at Gainesway Farm, where he had stood at stud since 1986. Years earlier, on my first trip to Lexington, my dad had taken me on a visit to Gainesway to see Cozzene in person. Little did I know, I would be working at the farm while a student at the University of Kentucky. I will always treasure the picture I have standing in front of my “hero” at the farm.

I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for Cozzene’s success as a racehorse and sire I would not be where I am today. He was my first favorite horse, and he is what sparked my interest in racing. Last year, the Amermans and my dad purchased a Cozzene filly at Keeneland and named her Fourth Power, because she is the fourth Cozzene they have bought over the years. This year at the Keeneland September sale, they bought their fifth Cozzene, a filly out of Mysterieuse Etoile. I can only hope that those fillies will be able to keep the Cozzene thread alive in my life. If not, it has been a great run.

Thanks, Cozzene.

Sean Feld is a senior at the University of Kentucky and is the Kentucky representative for Bongo Racing Stable.


Leave a Comment:


Nice Article Sean. . .  !!!

14 Oct 2008 1:55 PM

Caro lost two amazing, beautiful  children  this year in Winning Colors and Cozzene. I saw Cozzene in person at Gainesway in 1995. Thanks for the memories.

14 Oct 2008 2:26 PM
needler in Virginia

Isn't it amazing, Sean, how that one special horse can weave itself into your life? Thanks for sharing your memories of a truly SPECIAL horse. He will be missed.

14 Oct 2008 3:01 PM

Thanks for the article. I've always loved Cozzene and his foals (beautiful, mostly grey, fast, tough and durable -- what's not to like), and am happy to see how well Mizzen Mast in particular is doing at stud.

14 Oct 2008 4:12 PM
Fran Doos

Great writing about your memories of the past and your thoughts about a beautiful horse.

14 Oct 2008 4:19 PM
LRF Rito

Sean.... Excellent work.  Racing needs more young kids like you.  

14 Oct 2008 5:06 PM

Beautiful story!  Thank you for such lovely words about a great horse.

14 Oct 2008 8:00 PM
A Canuck Remembers

Sean: Thank you so much for your memories of Cozzene. I really didn't know who he was until a son of his raced against our great Canadian Triple Crown Winner, Izvestia in 1990. Cozzene's Prince was there in the Queen's Plate, didn't run in the Prince of Wales, but led for a long time in the Breeders. No horse could have beaten Izvestia that day, but a son of your wonderful Cozzene did his "daddy" proud. He will be remembered fondly by one particular Canadian.

14 Oct 2008 8:44 PM

Loved that horse... sensational turf horse and a great sire GOD BLESS and GODSPEED

14 Oct 2008 11:22 PM

Long Live The King!!!"Second Of June"(Louis Quatorze) is the one that DRUG me in...thank goodness!!!...another GREAT HORSE story!!!thanks...

15 Oct 2008 2:17 AM

This horse was awesome; a true champion in every sense of the word.. Bye Cozzene,  thanks for an exciting breeders cup win.

15 Oct 2008 2:15 PM

Sean, that was heart warming. Well Done.

15 Oct 2008 5:08 PM
thank you

i was at the 84' breeders cup when cozzene was 3rd to royal herione.i waited all year long for him to redeem himself in new york the following year he did not disappoint. i stiil remember durkin calling his name "cozzene" bursting on the outside.

16 Oct 2008 4:21 AM

i remember watching a replay of Cozzene's race and rooting 4 him to win, i also remember years later watching his son Star Over The Bay race in the Breeders Cup and rooting 4 him,my reason was he was a beautiful gray..i was heartbroken when Star Over The Bay broke down and i am heartbroken w/Cozzene's death...RIP Cozzene

16 Oct 2008 9:48 AM

Sean, what a lovely tribute to an elegant, classy, professional racehorse and one of the kindest stallions I've ever been around.

We have a daughter of his who's produced 5 lovely foals so far and is back IF for '09.  I got to meet Cozzene a few years ago, and cherish a piece of his mane the stallion manager gave me as a keepsake. It's my good luck charm that I keep with me always!

Thank you for sharing your story.

16 Oct 2008 2:42 PM
Dreamer's Mom

Thank you.

FYI-it's not just small kids that fall in love with gray horses.  Sometimes its middle-aged women, too.

16 Oct 2008 8:39 PM

Great story Sean!!  My Dad starting taking me to the track when I was 8 yrs old but I couldn’t read the form til I was 12, I’m 54 now.  Cozzene was such a great horse and stud and if you believe in God and I think he thought highly of Cozzene also because I think he gave Cozzene a Princess.  He took them on the same day, the same age, both from farms near Lexington that the name started with the letter G, She is from the Prince John line on her father's side. He is from the Prince John line on his mother's side.  I truly believe that Cozzene and Princess Rooney are in a pasture together in Heaven.

17 Oct 2008 8:55 PM

Gary -

That's a nice sentiment to lessen the sadness felt in losing two of the best beautiful grays on the same day.  

21 Oct 2008 8:14 AM

Sad to hear he has passed.  I worked For Jan Nerud when he trained Cozzene at Belmont.  I was only 14 at the time, but lied about my age to work on the backstretch.  Cozzene was a big baby of a horse--always friendly and loved treats.  He wasn't high strung and aggressive like some of the more famous horses.

11 Jan 2009 11:10 PM

Nice story Sean.  I am just learning about Cozzene because I now own one of his sons - Cozzee Baba.  He is a terrific fox hunter for me here in Virginia.  He is a dark bay with a beautiful heart shaped star on his forehead.  He too is a big baby and loves to be pampered, not to mention a liking for treats.  However, when he is working he is all business.  I got very lucky to have this horse in my life.

06 Apr 2009 10:35 PM

Great article.  I have a son of Cozzene out in my pasture right now.  He never ran due to complications at his birth, but he has been with us since he was weaned.  He has a special attitude just like his sire.  I think he'll get an extra carrot today.

23 Oct 2009 11:45 AM
Ben Zimmer

Hey Sean. Nice job.

I'm a little older than you and remember Cozzene quite well.

I've done very well with his offspring, and I only bet the gray ones on the turf.

He was an exceptional animal and fits in well with the great barn that the Nerud's maintained for year after year.

Thank you for the beautiful artical.


17 Feb 2010 9:36 AM

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