Alfonso Mazzetti found in Colorado a gateway into the Thoroughbred racing world that had fascinated him since he was a boy growing up in Lima, Peru.
His passion for the racehorse began early. At 11, he rode a motorcycle to the local racetrack, the Hipódromo de Monterrico, where he befriended a doorman who allowed him into the clubhouse. Mazzetti immigrated to the United States at age 16 in 1971 and later majored in animal science at Colorado State University before starting his own AAMCO automobile transmission franchise. His clients were among the ones who coaxed him into buying his first racehorse during the 1980s, and once he was in, he was all in. Mazzetti served as president of the Colorado Thoroughbred Breeders Association in 1990-1993, then again from 1994-1997, growing its membership exponentially. He also stood leading Colorado stallion The Astonisher but greener pastures were calling.
“I wanted to breed horses that would compete worldwide – and that’s just a dream that hopefully, someday, I can get that,” Mazzetti said. “I guess I’d rather be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a little pond.”
The dream took him to Kentucky, where he began making his mark on Bluegrass breeding. The last year has proven to be particularly fruitful. Mazzetti is the co-breeder of two standout half-siblings: 2013 Super Derby Prelude Stakes winner Holiday Mischief and graded stakes-placed Big Bazinga, who recently finished fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).
In 1997 Mazzetti, his wife, and their four children were scouting properties in Central Kentucky when they fell in love with what would become Old Shadowlawn Farm near Paris. For Mazzetti, the location was key.
“I wanted to be in Bourbon County because of the tradition here. I thought it was important to raise horses in Bourbon, or as close to [it as possible], in the Bluegrass.” He added, “Coming from Colorado, it’s hard to beat the conditions here for horses.”
A limited number of broodmares live on Mazzetti’s farm and with others he co-owns boarded elsewhere. “We usually own between three and five mares (most of them in partnership), a couple of mares on my own, and then we usually breed between 10 and 15 mares a year from boarders,” said Mazzetti, who is truly a hands-on breeder. “Essentially, it’s a one-man operation. We don’t have big numbers, so it’s easier to be involved. We foal them; we do everything and all.”
Mazzetti claims select mares in the hopes of making a good return. “We try to get mares that are running a little bit below their pedigree, but they’re still good-looking and, physically, are imposing,” he said. He will then breed the mare and sell her, but does his best to keep tabs on the resulting foal.
One of the mares he co-owns is Darling Daughter. The dam of Holiday Mischief and Big Bazinga, she is a graded stakes-placed daughter of Maria’s Mon that he bought off the track.
The first Darling Daughter foal Mazzetti co-bred (with Mike Evans’s Sheltowee Farm, Dr. Robert J. Hunt, and Rodney Winkler) was a 2009 Invasor filly. Named Wonder of It All, she became that sire’s first offspring to win a race. Next, the mare went to now-leading sire Into Mischief, resulting in Holiday Mischief. Her 2011 foal was Big Bazinga, by Bluegrass Cat, who placed in the Grey Stakes at Woodbine at two, then finished fourth in the recent Blue Grass. Darling Daughter is in foal to Creative Cause and is booked to Shanghai Bobby.
Big Bazinga’s races this past spring have proven to be exciting for Mazzetti and his partners. He observed, “Obviously, it’s wonderful to have a horse on the Derby trail. It looks like he likes the artificial surface. He ran a great race [in the Blue Grass].” He emphasized the horse’s success from age two, adding, “Of course, the thrill is hard to match and, from then on, we’ve kind of had very high expectations,” commenting that “he’s kind of the thrill of a lifetime.” Although Big Bazinga won’t be headed to the Derby, he will likely run on the turf.
Mazzetti remains humble about his horses’ successes in the breeding shed and on the racetrack. He said, “I guess I’m not the easiest man to show feelings. It is just really hard to describe how you feel when you have something good. Again, I’m kind of low-key and it was even hard to accept this honor of being selected as [TOBA] Member of the Month. It is very nice. It feels very undeserved.”
Congratulations to Alfonso, TOBA's April member of the month!