Those who attempted to wrest the microphone from owner Martin Schwartz at last year's Eclipse Awards ceremony probably weren't prepared for Round Two to come so quickly. Schwartz, who collected the hardware last year for 2011 champion female grass horse (Stacelita), returned to the podium to receive a new trophy in the same category thanks to Zagora.
The 5-year-old of 2012 won five of eight starts with two placings, and banked nearly $1.7 million. She was at her best when it mattered most, overtaking Marketing Mix to win the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita.
"I don't want to downplay a second consecutive Eclipse," said the Florida-based market trader, "but it's kind of like virginity--the first time is always more memorable. Winning the Breeders' Cup race, though, was really sweet. That was the cherry on the cake."
French-bred Zagora (Green Tune--Zaneton) was good enough to take multiple group events in her native land before being imported Stateside by Schwartz and handed to trainer Chad Brown. She began 2012 with a pair of grade III victories at Tampa Bay Downs (the Endeavour and Hillsborough stakes) before coming north and disappointing for the second straight year in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland. She was winless in three lifetime starts there.
Zagora, bred by E. Puerari and Oceanic Bloodstock, rebounded to win the Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico but then was slowed by a leg injury that led to a third-place effort in the Diana Stakes (gr. IT). When it looked as if she might under perform for the season, however, she snapped back and set a course record at Saratoga at 1 1/16 miles in the Ballston Spa Stakes (gr. IIT), winning in 1:39.07.
Having decided not to race Zagora at age 6, Schwartz sold her to Mandore International Agency for $2.5 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale. Schwartz said that both Zagora and Stacelita were believed to be booked to undefeated Frankel in his first year at stud.
By the way, a three-peat isn't out of the question. Schwartz said his 2013 roster is his deepest yet, and it includes 4-year-old Samitar, already a group/grade I winner in Ireland and the U.S.
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