HALLANDALE BEACH, FL– When heavily favored Flutterby coasted home an easy winner in the $75,000 Gold Mover Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the speedy chestnut filly sparkled, but even she couldn’t upstage the race’s real star – her trainer, the ever-vibrant Jerry Bozzo.
Bozzo, 94 years young, bred, owns, and trains Flutterby, and when his charge finished second in Gulfstream’s Princess Rooney Stakes (G2) last month, he was one-horse away from becoming the oldest trainer to win a graded stake race. The former civil engineer and World War II veteran was a popular commodity in the winner’s circle following the Gold Mover. An interview was briefly interrupted for a photograph. His son Seth Sherwood, a New York Times journalist visiting from France, quickly snapped photos of his own to document the occasion. Members of the crowd even shouted his praises. “You deserve it!” one told him.
“I’ve run out of adjectives,” Bozzo said. “[Flutterby] is so honest. I knew she was going to run that way today. She told me so herself, and she did.”
Flutterby, a blossoming daughter of Congrats, has done little wrong this summer, winning two of her last three starts, all in stakes competition at Gulfstream. In the Gold Mover, the 4-year-old was in command from the bell. Breaking alertly, she quickly went to the lead under Luca Panici and, joined on the front end by Whisper Hill Farm’s Ultimate Shopper, set fractions of 22.14 seconds for the first quarter and 44.48 seconds for the half. With an eighth of a mile to go, Flutterby shook free of Ultimate Shopper and began to draw off as Panici glanced under his elbow. No one was gaining, and no one would. Flutterby kicked clear to a 3 ¼-length victory while being geared down late; she covered the six-furlong distance in 1:10.05.
“She did it easy,” Panici said.“She was a little tough in the beginning (when confronted by Ultimate Shopper) but when she understood she relaxed a bit. I just touched her a few times in the stretch to keep her attention, but she was good today.”
“It was a typical run,” Bozzo added. “Very short lead early, and when you get near the money, go. There were a couple of speed horses in there that gave her a run, that challenged her, but she doesn’t care. She’s confident in herself.”
Bozzo had good reason to be confident in Flutterby as well, after the filly blew out three furlongs in a bullet 34.07 seconds on Thursday, indicating her sharpness for the race.
“She was absolutely ready, because the boy didn’t move on her, and she did it on her own,” he said.
Bozzo said he had received calls from racing secretaries across to country attempting to recruit Flutterby to their respective races, but Bozzo ultimately decided his filly, who can be high-strung, would be best suited to staying home in South Florida.
“She used to be almost unimaginably nervous,” he said. “She’s gaining a little maturity. I wouldn’t say she’s calm, but she’s a lot better than she was.”
Bozzo is unsure of what Flutterby’s immediate future holds, but he may give the filly some well-deserved time off.
“I may give her a little bit of a rest,” he said, “though some of those bigger races here are coming up in September. I’m a little undecided. I’m ambivalent.”
Flutterby returned $3.20 to win. Distinta ($6.40, $3.60) and Quiet Hour ($4.00) made up ground late to secure the place and show, respectively. Ultimate Shopper finished fourth, while Miss Darla, Celebrity Star and Nesso completed the order of finish.