Jerry Pezzetti has become synonymous with Ankeny during his 43 years of coaching high school football.

Among his players was an all-state tight end from the early 1990s named Jason Loutsch, who became a best friend of Pezzetti’s son, Ryan.

They all shared a passion for horse racing, too. And so it was that Loutsch decided two years ago to name a promising thoroughbred after his onetime coach.

Cozzetti (the horse’s father was Cozzene) is running Saturday in the Preakness Stakes, the second leg in the coveted Triple Crown. Pezzetti will watch on TV. Ever the educator, he’s staying in town to attend a couple of graduation parties first.

“They flew us down to Arkansas to watch it,” Pezzetti said of Cozzetti’s fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby. “We enjoyed it tremendously. It went off at 31-1 and it came tearing at the end.”

Loutsch said the naming was an apt honor.

“When you think of Ankeny, the first name that comes up is Jerry Pezzetti,” Loutsch said. “He’s been here a long time, done a lot of great things, been a great mentor for a lot of young kids in this town.”

Following the exploits of Cozzetti has become a family affair. Even Ryan Pezzetti’s 3-year-old son Rilynd has been captivated.

“He says the name correctly, and he knows the jockeys and everything,” Loutsch said. “He loves Cozzetti. He’s got a little gray horse he carries around. It’s funny.”

Jerry Pezzetti said he’s planning to bet his namesake horse “across the board” Saturday, meaning to win, place or show. Whatever the outcome, he’s enjoying the ride.

“I never went to a horse race until I came to Ankeny at age 31,” Pezzetti recalled. “I started going over to Ak-sar-ben (in Omaha) during the summer. I also taught driver’s ed in those days, and it was a great way to relax.

“(Dennis Albaugh and Loutsch) have been tremendous and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’m looking forward to it.”

— Mark Emmert

Source : Preakness Stakes: Time right for Cozzetti to come of age –