EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Cozzi Capital has enjoyed a productive summer and fall in New Jersey.
Trainer and co-owner Herman Wilensky hopes the 4-year-old Cozzi Capital can muster another solid effort Friday night in the Grade 3, $150,000 Violet Handicap at the Meadowlands Racetrack before returning to Florida.
Cozzi Capital is one of the top contenders in the wide-open Violet for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The lineup includes Sharp Susan, returning to grass after briefly setting the pace in the Grade 1 Spinster over the Polytrack at Keeneland; All Is Vanity, on the board in all four starts this season; and Shytoe Lafeet, narrow winner last time out of the West Virginia Senate President's Stakes at Mountaineer Racetrack.
The race attracted a field of 13, with Jenny Bean Girl entered for the main track only.
Purse reductions at Calder due to a management dispute with the horsemen and the onset of another Florida summer motivated Wilensky to ship Cozzi Capital to Monmouth Park in June.
"She's a tough horse to train," Wilensky said. "In the summer, it is real hot [in south Florida], and it's tough to keep weight on her. In New Jersey, she took to the track and she really took to the weather. She's done very well."
In four races at Monmouth, Cozzi Capital had a win, a second, and a third, with the victory coming last time out in a division of the Revidere Stakes.
Patiently ridden by Carlos Marquez Jr., who has the return call, Cozzi Capital made a strong stretch run to get up by a nose.
"If you can get her to relax early, she will give you a run," Wilensky said. "You just have to do it at the right time. This is a pretty wide-open race. If she runs her race with a clean trip, and a little bit of luck, I think we can get her home."
The New Jersey-bred Paradise Tonight, the lone 3-year-old in the race, certainly has the winning knack with a record of 5-1-1 in 7 starts this season for trainer, breeder, and co-owner Joe Pierce Jr.
This will be her first appearance on grass.
"I really don't have a choice," Pierce said. "There aren't many straight 3-year-old filly races left. She's training well and it's the middle of October. If I'm going to try them, I may as well try them while she's at her best."