Eric Kronfeld

Eric Kronfeld

Benoit Photography

Zenyatta Breeder Eric Kronfeld Dies

Ex-record company executive responsible for multiple champ and 2010 Horse of the Year

Eric Kronfeld, who bred 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta under the moniker Maverick Productions, died in New York May 15 after a battle with cancer. He was 71.

Kronfeld, a tough-talking New Yorker and a father of four, was a lawyer who made his mark in the music industry, forming record companies with legendary producers such as Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. He was involved in producing albums by The Eagles, Eric Clapton, and The Who. He also ran PolyGram in the United States for nearly a decade and managed Lou Reed for 12 years. At the time of his death he was an investment banker and financial consultant to various public and private companies in China.

Kronfeld entered the racing industry in 1975 when he bought two horses in England. He began attending the Saratoga yearling sale, where he purchased Mrs. Penny in 1978 for $40,000. The Great Nephew filly went on to win group I stakes in England and France and became champion 2-year-old filly and champion 3-year-old filly in England.

Kronfeld sent his mare For the Flag to Kris S. and in 1995 got Vertigineux, from whom he bred three stakes winnersWhere's Bailey, Balance, and Zenyatta, the final two grade I winners and the last a multiple champion and only female to win the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

Vertigineux also produced Eblouissante (by Bernardini ), an allowance winner bred and owned by Kronfeld who is currently in training with John Shirreffs in New York.

Don Robinson, who kept Kronfeld's mares and raised his foals at Robinson's Winter Quarter Farm near Lexington, said, "Eric was a curmudgeon and a great person all rolled into one. He was very generous and a really good guy underneath the bluster. Zenyatta is a for-lifetime horse, and she came about all because of Eric. She was exciting for the whole world, and still is. He was both insurmountable and irreplaceable."

Funeral arrangements are pending.