No, no, no, not the restaurant necessarily 🙂 But, a horse named for the renowned fine dining establishment on St. John’s Caneel Bay will be racing in the upcoming Kentucky Derby! How exciting is that??
I received a call from John Ferrigno, owner of Zozo’s at Caneel Bay, on Friday afternoon. He was overly excited to let me know he had a story for me…A dark bay, bred in the Bluegrass State, had qualified for the Kentucky Derby. And, the name of that beautiful colt is Zozos.
I excitedly told him the story was already on my radar but he let me know a few other fun factoids in regards to the naming of this horse. You see, Barry and Joni Butzow have been regular and beloved guests at Zozos and other St. John bars and restaurants for many years. You won’t find many long time restaurant staffers on island who don’t immediately recognize this kind and genuine couple. Barry and Joni, also homeowners and part time residents on island, are horse breeders and have over time named many of their racing horses after the notable bays and establishments of St. John. And this one, much like its namesake, was destined for greatness.
But this qualification for the ultimate horse racing event, The Kentucky Derby, is a first for the long time horse breeders! In 35 years, this will be the Butzow’s first time to do “the walk” into the racing grounds, along with family and friends, accompanying the horse from the barn area and around the racetrack. And, the upcoming derby will be Zozos fourth race ever!
John, his wife Karen and the whole team at Zozos are beyond grateful for the Butzow’s bestowing the name of the restaurant upon this talented colt upon its birth just three years ago. You see, not only are these amazing people long time regulars and friends, they are also currently housing some of the survivors of the recent apartment fire in Grunwald at their St. John home.
And, in addition to their kindness associated with housing generosity, extended to the Zozos staff members who found themselves with no place to go after the fire, their winning colt will be putting the St. John restaurant on the map this weekend as it runs in the Derby. And Joni and Barry have asked that John and his family join them in Kentucky this weekend to celebrate and cheer on the horse named for the beloved restaurant on the Caneel Bay waterfront.
“We are just so flattered and honored to be out there with them,” Ferrigno told me. “They’re the nicest people you would ever want to meet.”
Tune in this weekend for the Kentucky Derby and root for Zozos….you might just see some familiar faces walking across that lawn. 🙂
And, in the meantime, take a peek at this amazing video that gives a bit of background on Zozos race to the Derby!