Friday, January 14, 2011

Speed Dating For Zenyatta

While the world anxiously awaits the outcome of HOTY and whether  Zenyatta will get her much deserved award on Monday night, I’m just as anxious to find out who Zenyatta will ultimately date when breeding season begins. Though Mike Smith contends that "no horse is worthy", some Kentucky stallion will get very lucky. Talk about "classing up".

Going with the age old axiom… breed the best to the best and hope for the best… who IS the best for Zenyatta?

Most will agree that the prospective suitor needs to have brilliant speed. The Queen has all the staying power that any of her offspring will ever need, but an infusion of some zip might make for the ultimate mix of speed and stamina for success in those Grade 1's that everyone wants to win.

When you look at the top 20 proven stallions from 2010 standing in Kentucky, ( and believe it or not A.P. Indy is not among them; he is 26th), the ones that stand out as good "nicks" are Giant’s Causeway, Distorted Humor, Malibu Moon, Medaglia D’Oro, Mineshaft and Indian Charlie. These are the ones that seem to cross well, with "A" or better  ratings according to the various hypothetical mating systems. Those ratings are based on the racing success of the combination of Zenyatta’s bloodlines with each stallions’ bloodlines. It is a very good tool to use when considering stallions. There are some awfully good stallions whose two year olds will be running this year that also nick well (like Hard Spun) but unfortunately they are unproven, so it’s not the way to go with a mare of her stature.

Another equally important factor to be considered is conformation.  Balance is key in an equine athlete, and you try to match up both the mare and the stallion with this in mind. Any slight conformational faults should be taken into consideration and minimized with the proper mate selection.

As race mares go, Zenyatta is a very big mare. And it worked in her favor on the race track. But bigger is not always better, and in many cases, in race horses it’s a negative. Sometimes the bigger they are, the harder it is too keep them sound. Again, it’s all about balance. My guess is in Zenyaytta’s case, is that size is the biggest consideration next to compatible bloodlines. Breeding to a very big stallion  would probably not be the best of ideas. You certainly don’t want to put any more size into the resulting foal. And going in the other direction ( too small ) is not ideal either. 

What would be perfect for Zenyatta is a well-balanced horse around 16.2 hands, that was brilliant at a mile and could carry that speed a little farther on a good day in top notch company. The Big Mare will take care of the rest.

The art of breeding race horses is every bit of a gamble, if not more, than racing them. Lots of effort goes into making breeding decisions. I'm sure the chosen suitor has been well vetted. We look forward to the announcement ! 

Who will it be?


  1. Whoever the "lucky guy" is, the kid is certain to have a difficult time living up to the standards set by mom and dad.

    I think they'll choose a stallion that is commerciallly proven and does well at the sales. Someone would surely like to have that prized possession even if the kid isn't as talented on the track. I would too.

  2. TKS,
    You are so right, the standards will be sky high! and so often, esp. with good mares they don't reproduce themselves. Maybe Z's offspring will be different.
    Though I haven't researched this, I don't recall seeing anything that the Mosses have sold at the sales. I think they are in the game mostly to race and breed for themselves. After all, they were in no hurry to rush Zenyatta to the breeding shed.
    Thanks for visiting!

  3. I really like the idea of Indian Charlie. He tends to sire offspring with blazing speed with some that can carry it a good distance as well as sprint.

    Zenyatta's first foal (and Rachel's too) will probably be as anticipated and celebrated as Genuine Risk's first foal was! I'm personally eager to see what Rag's To Riches offspring can bring to the track as well.

  4. Hi Brian,
    It is always a treat to follow a female family on to the race track, year after year. And not only is it exciting, it's also a great handicapping tool. When you can visually recall what mom brought to the table, it makes it a lot more interesting.
    Thanks for visiting!