|BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC|
2nd at 4BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC
(gr. I , 10f , to Zenyatta, defeating Twice Over (GB), Summer Bird, Colonel John, Richard's Kid, Awesome Gem, Regal Ransom, Mine That Bird, Rip Van Winkle (IRE), Einstein (BRZ), Girolamo ).
What constitutes the perfect racehorse? Speed, stamina, courage, soundness; a temperament that can handle the roar of the crowd and the adrenaline-pumped charge of the race with sense. Yet to truly touch the imagination, a horse needs one thing more: Whether you call it the Òlook of eaglesÓ or the ÒX factor,Ó it is that indefinable air that makes the heart of a champion visible to human eyes and turns greatness into legend. For many, Zenyatta has now joined the company of legends, displaying every quality of the racehorse to perfection as she winged home in the Nov. 7 BreedersÕ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park.
Not even the finest of breeders can predict when a foal will be touched with greatness, and ZenyattaÕs breeder, Eric Kronfeld (who bred the mare under the name of Maverick Production), is no exception. Still, he recognized that Zenyatta might be something special early, though he knew all too well that such promise is not always fulfilled.
ÒI bought her granddam (For the Flag, by Forli) at Saratoga,Ó Kronfeld recalled. ÒI thought she had potential, but she got hurt as a yearling in England and never did much. She threw several stakes winners for me, and then I decided to breed her to Kris S. because I thought the cross of Forli and Roberto was a really good one. That got me Vertigineux, who was big like Kris S. but had bad ankles. I thought she had a shot at winning a stakes, but she got trapped down on a deep rail in her next-to-last race and that about finished her.
ÒBecause she was so big, I didnÕt want a big horse for her; youÕd get a baby elephant that way. I sent her to Aljabr first and the foal didnÕt look like much, so I sold her for what I could get. (Looks can be deceiving; after selling for $4,000 at the 2003 Keeneland yearling September yearling sale, that foal, WhereÕs Bailey, won the 2005 Remington Park Oaks and $116,313) Then I sent her to Thunder Gulch and got Balance, who I sold for about a quarter-million. She had bad ankles too, but three grade I wins arenÕt bad.
ÒPeople were telling me I should take Vertigineux to a proven sire next, but I would have had to pay $250,000 or more for the ones I liked. So I decided to go to Street Cry for two reasons: he was a brilliant racehorse, and I had enough faith in the mare to be willing to take a gamble on an unproven sire. Zenyatta turned out a big, scopy yearling, really nice, and I think she would have sold for more if she hadnÕt been quite so big and if she hadnÕt had a case of hives during the sale. (She sold for $60,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September sale.) But IÕve never regretted selling her, and IÕm very happy for the Mosses (owners Jerry and Ann) and (trainer) John Shirreffs; theyÕre some of the finest people youÕll ever meet.Ó
Zenyatta capped a wonderful week for Darley stallion Street Cry, whose son Shocking upset AustraliaÕs most venerated race, the Nov. 3 Emirates Melbourne Cup (Aust-I). So far, the stallion has been represented by 33 stakes winners from his first three crops of racing age, including 11 grade/group I winners and four champions or highweights. Currently fifth on the general sire list, Street Cry is one of the few U.S. stallions who will not be offered at a reduced fee next year; his 2010 fee is listed at $150,000, the same as for 2009.
As for Vertinigeux, she is now in the hands of Coolmore, having been sold privately by Kronfeld Òfor what I thought was a very fair price,Ó he said. ÒSheÕs 14, after all, and this is a business. And I kept her colt by Bernardini (a weanling), and he looks even better than Zenyatta did at the same age.Ó
VertinigeuxÕ other progeny are Treasure Trail (3-year-old filly by Pulpit), a $550,000 Keeneland September purchase who has failed to place in four starts, and the 2-year-old GiantÕs Causeway colt Souper Spectacular, who sold for $1.15 million at last yearÕs Keeneland September sale but has yet to race. Vertigineux is currently in foal to Henrythenavigator.
Zenyatta is one of four BreedersÕ Cup winners out of daughters of Kris S., who is also the broodmare sire of War Chant (1990 Mile, gr. I), Sweet Catomine (2004 Juvenile Fillies, gr. I), and Life Is Sweet (2009 LadiesÕ Classic, gr. I). Also the sire of five BreedersÕ Cup champions, Kris S. has been rather hit or miss as a broodmare sire, with 84 stakes winners from 1,744 foals of racing age (5%). In fairness, however, most of his daughters from his earlier crops lacked strong female families, making consistent success less likely.
A big, rugged, rather plain mare in the mold of her dam and maternal grandsire, Zenyatta has a pedigree loaded with strains more noted for size, scope, and stamina than for show-ring looks. Inbred to Hail to Reason 5x4 through his best sire sons, Halo and Roberto, she is also inbred 5x4 to Hoist the Flag and 5x5 to Nashua. On paper, those who thought Zenyatta could have Ògone around againÓ after the Classic have good reason for their beliefs. As it is, she has gone far enough and fast enough to prove herself one of the all-time greats, and that is all that any breeder can ever hope for. By Avalyn Hunter
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