Bomboloni’s nearly sweet win for Stevica Djuric

Djuric Sporthorses and Anna Simms’ Bomboloni overcame several traffic issues to split horses in the stretch and run down even-money favorite Bliss This in Friday’s sixth race at Laurel Park to give ex-jockey Stevic Djuric his first win as an owner/trainer.

With summer meet-leading rider Jevian Toledo aboard, sophomore gelding Bomboloni ($22.80) covered six furlongs in 1:11.71 over a fast main track to win the $12,500 maiden claimer for horses age 3, 4 and 5 by three-quarters of a length in his unveiling.

In their excitement to get to the winner’s circle Djuric, a 40-year-old native of Serbia who won 100 races as a jockey between 2009 and 2015, and his wife, Andee, walked right past the steps from the elevated entrance in front of Laurel’s grandstand.

“I’ve never been to the winner’s circle this way,” Djuric said.

Based at the Braeburn training center in Crozet, Va., Bomboloni had worked there as well as at  Laurel and Pimlico since late May for his debut. The Djurics purchased the Verrazzano gelding for $5,000 at Keeneland’s September 2020 yearling sale.

“My wife and I picked up this horse at the Keeneland sale a couple years ago and he’s been really good for us,” Djuric said. “He’s had some good workouts, but he’s always acted like a baby. We didn’t really see a lot in the morning, but it looked like he had a lot of potential here.”

It had the makings of a pretty sweet day; bomboloni are an Italian pastry similar to doughnuts.

However, that potential will be for someone else to realize. Trainer Dale Capuano took Bomboloni for the $12,500 tag on behalf of owner Louis J. Ulman.

“I just had him and he got claimed, so I don’t have any now. He’s the first horse I’ve owned. Hopefully we get another one soon. Maybe not today, but soon,” Djuric said. “I wish good luck to the new connections. I want to see this horse doing well and be successful.”

Djuric’s final full year as a jockey was 2015 though he had the occasional mount up to last year, his most recent ride coming July 21, 2021 at Colonial Downs. His rode his last winner, Holiday Flag, Aug. 1, 2015 at Laurel.

“My last win as a jockey was here in 2015 and I couldn’t wait to get back here in the winner’s circle in Maryland,” he said. “Training is something I started doing because I wanted to ride races. After working with the horses on the ground, I figured it’s probably better to get somebody else riding and just stay on the ground.”

Djuric, who with his wife also works with hunter-jumpers on their 32-acre farm, earned $1.925 million with 100 wins from 1,434 mounts as a jockey dating back to his first in 2006. His first win came Feb. 21, 2009 at Tampa Bay Downs.

“I’m definitely going to stay in the business,” he said. “That’s what I do. I love horse racing and I just try to stay as a jockey or a trainer, whatever. I just want to be part of this game.”

Bomboloni gave Stevica Djuric his first owning and training win. Photo Jim McCue.