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Zenyatta to Bernardini

Team Zenyatta ended months of speculation when they announced the identity of the 2010 Horse of the Year's first mate: 2006 champion three-year-old colt Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO). The cross of A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) and sons with Machiavellian line mares rates A++ on TrueNicks, with two grade I winners on the cross from only 10 starters.

Jilbab, one of two grade I stakes winners on the cross, won the 2002 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) at 12 furlongs. She is by A.P. Indy out of Headline, a Machiavellian half sister to speedy grade I-winning two-year-old Saratoga Six.

In 2009, Flashing won the Test (gr. I) at seven furlongs and Gazelle (gr. I) at nine furlongs. Also a daughter of A.P. Indy, Flashing is out of the group III-winning Machiavellian mare Morning Pride, who extends from the powerful Square Angel/Nangela family. Immediate family members of Flashing include gr. I winners Fantastic Light, Gorgeous, Seaside Attraction, Golden Attraction, and Cape Town.

Flashing's full brother Mandurah set a world record for a mile on turf, running 1:31.23 at Monmouth Park last June.

Bernardini won the Preakness Stakes, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup (all gr. I) en route to championship honors in 2006. He was second to Invasor (ARG) (TrueNicks,SRO) in that year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. At the same event and racetrack four years later, Zenyatta would finish a gallant second to Blame (TrueNicks,SRO).

Bernardini is off to an exciting start in his young stud career. His first crop are just three-year-olds of 2011, but he already has four graded stakes winners, plus grade I-placed Stay Thirsty. A Z Warrior (dam by Carson City) won last year's Frizette (gr. I) and is bred on similar lines as the Bernardini–Zenyatta mating, as both are extensions of A.P. Indy/Mr. Prospector. This successful cross is responsible for top sires Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO), Mineshaft (TrueNicks,SRO), and Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO).

Bernardini's daughter Theyskens' Theory, a group III winner in England, and his son Stay Thirsty, second in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), both carry Roberto in the third generation. Zenyatta's foal will carry Roberto in the fourth generation, through her broodmare sire, Kris S.

Zenyatta is from the first crop of Street Cry (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO). Given his youth, Street Cry has only seven starters as a broodmare sire to date, but two are winners, including Peruvian group III winner Gautier. Street Cry's sire Machiavellian has 59 stakes winners as a broodmare sire, including the above mentioned Flashing and Jilbab, Japanese champion Victoire Pisa, Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. I) winner Red Rocks, and European champion Shamardal (TrueNicks,SRO), who is out of a full sister to Street Cry.

Click to view the TrueNicks Enhanced report for Bernardini–Zenyatta.

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I am pleased! Bernardini was one of my top choices. But Z's owners are so lucky in that her pedigree allows many different matches. Can't wait to see who the choices will be in future years, never mind seeing the babies!

Terry 26 Jan 2011 2:38 PM

I would chosen A.P Indy for the first breeding.  The old guy won't be around for many more years; one would hope that Bernardini will have many years ahead of him.  Although True Nicks rates both matches as A++, it's hard to beat A.P. Indy's % of stakes winners.  In my opinion, the only reason to select Bernardini over A.P. Indy would be the stud fee - and surely Zenyatta earned enough for the Mosses that wouldn't have been a problem!

Susan from VA 26 Jan 2011 2:38 PM

I agree with Susan from VA- my first choice is AP Indy, and I find Bernardi a bit of a surprise.  AP is far more proven, and his progeny can do a classic distance.  I question the distance issue with Bernardi.  It's certainly not a bad choice, but IMO, it's not the best choice.  If Nicks alone are to be weighed, the City Zip gets the nod.  (Speaking of distance issues, what would that foal run?)  

Maybe next year for AP.

As to the stud fee, I highly doubt there is one.  Think of the publicity for the stallion- to be selected as Z's mate.  Were I in the  position of stallion owner/farm, I certainly wouldn't charge the fee.

PomDeTerre 26 Jan 2011 3:02 PM

Bernardini looks like a great match but I wish she was bred to A.P. Indy or Bluegrass Cat.

I am so glad she has pasture buddies now. I wonder where she will go after being bred and in foal?

Golden Gate 26 Jan 2011 3:05 PM

Maybe A.P. Indy is too old for Zenyatta.  I'm sure a lot of thought went into this very special mating and the Mosses made the right decision.  Can hardly wait.

Denmark 26 Jan 2011 3:10 PM

I thought that they would go to AP Indy for all of previously mentioned reasons, plus the last thing she needs is more size, and AP Indy is not a tall horse.

poormansracehorse 26 Jan 2011 3:10 PM

I agree with Susan from VA and PDT as well. Why choose Bernardini over A.P. Indy? Could the stud fee really be a consideration? I'd actually like to know the Mosses' thinking on this....

Karen in Texas 26 Jan 2011 3:12 PM

I like this pick. I can't speak for the Mosses, but maybe they wanted a more precocious foal to aim for the three year old classics.  AP Indy's seem to develop a little later. In either case, I'm sure the foal will not be rushed along and will begin racing when the time is right.

Diane J 26 Jan 2011 3:19 PM

I think the choice here has to do with his age, maybe they don't want to breed her to an older horse, maybe his size, although I don't know that either of those have much to do with anything.

Like someone mentioned I highly doubt they have to pay a stud fee. Darley stands her sire and his stud fee has increased dramatically just because of her. Ditto with Lane's end/ AP indy, the publicity alone is enough of a reason to waive the fee.

I'm ok with this choice. Seems odd but I trust their judgement all the way.

scenceable 26 Jan 2011 3:36 PM

What a great boost for such a young stallion.

SecretaryLamb 26 Jan 2011 3:39 PM

I'm very surprised. You'd think you would take a maiden mare to a very proven stallion which A.P. Indy (or even Giant's Causeway)is.  Yes, Bernardini is off to a great start - and I loved him when he was racing - but why wouldn't you breed her to the best of the best!!!  Stud fee is not the issue; the Mosses are millionaires over and over and she earned her right to the best stallions.  I just hope they chose wisely - for their reasons - and she delivers a healthy, successful foal!

FLAFAN1 26 Jan 2011 3:43 PM

I love the match up.  I think Bernadini is a terrific choice,   He is his father's son and he is much younger  at that.   I think he can handle maiden mares better,  anyway papa A.P is getting on up in age and hey with his son you are getting the same progeny from his dad's side.  

Ian, What do you think of the matchup and not just because of the very good nick rating?

sodapopkid 26 Jan 2011 3:44 PM

I must say,  Darley has all the top sires.   They have Zenyatta's sire, Rachel Alexandra's sire, they will now have Zenyatta's foal's sire.   Can they get much bigger?

sodapopkid 26 Jan 2011 3:48 PM

I certainly hope they put more thought into the breeding than just simply looking at the Nicks. Nicks are to breeding as beyers are to handicapping, they should be the last thing you use to determine quality.

stevebiscuit 26 Jan 2011 3:52 PM

Personally I think its a great choice. AP Indy's fertility is declining and it's possible the mating between him and a maiden mare would not take, particularly when you factor in the undesended testical. I for one am glad they went outside the box with Bernardini. I've never been a fan of AP Indy. He has sired a plethora of high priced dud's, ditto Storm Cat. I am not surprised that they went outside of Lanes End either. In fact I had rather hoped she would go to Darley, although not to this particular stallion. Darley has some sensational young stallions in Bernardini, Hard Spun, Street Sense and Offlee Wild. Also, I doubt the stud fee was even a consideration with the Mose's. After all Zenyatta pulled in a substantial bankroll during her career. When your mare is a Queen, price is no object.

Criminal Type 26 Jan 2011 3:53 PM


I bet they put a lot of thought into the decision, and you're right, nicks are just one of many tools to consider when planning matings.


Ian Tapp 26 Jan 2011 3:54 PM


I love the mating. Limited stats to back it up so far, but all indicators are positive. Most of Bernardini's runners have shown a lot of pace--I think that's a good thing to infuse into Zenyatta. Also, Bernardini is an extremely well balanced horse physically, something very desirable for mating large mares.

The pedigree cross is nice. It's proven it can get top racehorses. And like I mentioned in the blog, the fact that Bernardini already has a couple graded stakes horses carrying Roberto is encouraging.


Ian Tapp 26 Jan 2011 4:05 PM

while I was never crazy about Bernadini for some reason, I do love his pedigree (Quiet American, Dr Fager and the Bid) and I think he's an awesome match in phenotype and genotype and his size at 16.1 is ideal for her...!

Rachel 26 Jan 2011 4:06 PM

I imagine the fact that there has been very positive feedback about Zenyatta's 2 y.o. half sister by Bernardini must have played a part in the decision.

poormansracehorse 26 Jan 2011 4:09 PM

Ian, someone was speaking of stud fee,  I highly doubt the stud fee was any problem for the Mosses.  I would almost bet that Darley would almost give them a cut considering his stallion gets to be the queen's very first mate.   Darn,  Look at the high profile attention that brings to Darley,  Dont you agree?  Ian?.

sodapopkid 26 Jan 2011 4:15 PM


Having earned $7.3 mil on the track, I doubt there was much price sensitivity in the selection process. It's nice publicity, sure, but Bernardini was already a hot commodity, and there are plenty of high profile proven producers who pay full stud fee. I think the $75K fee is fair, and good value for the Mosses.


Ian Tapp 26 Jan 2011 4:25 PM

I don't think they had too many viable options for her in the US. My guess is that it narrowed in the end to no more than three stallions: A.P. Indy, Bernardini, and Medaglia D'Oro. I'm not suggesting that these are the three best US stallions but, perhaps, the three best suited for her, factoring pedigree and conformation. A.P. Indy's age and fertility likely dropped him from the #1 spot, and Medaglia D'Oro's tendancy to sire some size may have caused concern. I'm not a lover of Medaglia D'Oro, but he's done well, his pedigree could suit Zenyatta, and most of all he has a Damascus which seems to suit well her Street Cry. But, I would have still chosen Bernardini over Medaglia D'Oro for her, but this choice is far from a slam dunk-rather, Bernardini may be the only reasonable option left. He would seem to suit her conformationally-should blunt her size-, and his pedigree offers a nice blend albeit uninspiring. Bernardini also would seem to keep alive the turf option, should Zenyatta later prove to produce more to that persuasion. So, once again the relative lack of pedigree diversity in our stallion ranks has raised its head, causing a Zenyatta to be mated to a somewhat still unproven stallion. Just to toss in an interesting hypothetical- What if Dubawi had been relocated to KY for the 2011 season? His pedigree also provides a somewhat too close Mr. Prospector (and, perhaps, Bernardini's, through Fappiano, is the safer), but Dubawi would also seem to suit her well (if not better) conformationally, is, perhaps, a bit more proven, likely is capable of siring dirt as well as turf (evidenced somewhat by their stellar polytrack performances), and causes a potentially + linebreeding to the top mare, Mrs. Peterkin among some other positive pedigree features.

sceptre 26 Jan 2011 4:26 PM

Maybe they’ll make the next Secretariat!!!

purplecast 26 Jan 2011 4:43 PM

I've always felt that Zenyatta needed to be bred to a horse with a lot of speed and brilliance in his pedigree. Bernardini certainly fits that criterion. His dam, Cara Rafaela, was a top class race horse, with a lot of speed in her pedigree. I remember Steve Haskin saying once that Bernardini was the most impressive physical specimun of a stallion he had seen. He should be a great match for the Queen. Also, in an interview some time back in the Bloodhorse magazine, the stallion manager at Lane's End said that A.P.Indy crossed better with speedy, sprinter-type mares than with classic distance mares. I'm afraid A.P. and Zenyatta might produce a "plodder". In the years that Storm Cat was still active, it was almost obligatory to breed any good retiring race mare to him. A lot of duds were produced by doing this. I'm glad the Mosses are thinking outside the box and trying something different.

ceil 26 Jan 2011 4:43 PM

Ian,  Awhile back  you done some truenicks mating between pairs,  a good while back I think.   Who do you think would give Rachel Alexandra a very high nick mating?  and what did you give her and Curlin?       Sodapop

sodapopkid 26 Jan 2011 4:59 PM

Yes, we did a Curlin-Rachel blog (click here to read it). That cross, Mr. Prospector/El Prado, rates A. As with Street Cry, Medaglia d'Oro is too young to have much data as a broodmare sire, but look for El Prado's record as a broodmare sire to be a good indicator for affinities.

Ian Tapp 26 Jan 2011 5:16 PM

Soda, Think Rachel is an A+ to Street Cry, go figure....But we all know she is going to <sigh> Curlin, which just makes me sad.

Criminal Type 26 Jan 2011 5:20 PM

   Dear I Tapp,

        I can't wait to see what this Bernardini-Zenyatta

offspring is going to look like. Here's my name suggestions

for this offspring: if it's a filly Zendini

(Bernerdini out of the Street Cry mare Zenyatta), or if

it's a colt Berneyatta

(Bernerdini out of the Street Cry mare Zenyatta).


                  Kyle Stasierowski

                  26-year-old loyal horse racing fan,

                  TVG viewer, HRTV viewer, and

                  TVG Community member from Alden, New York

gogofan 26 Jan 2011 5:30 PM

Bernardini is fine, as a match with multiple Triple Crown crosses in his pedigree. Like a lot of folks, I thought A.P. Indy would be the choice because he is winding down as a stud, but Bernardini may produce a brilliant match. Everyone has an opinion, but if Zenyatta were mine-I'd have gone for Eskendereya (brilliant tactical speed), or his sire Giant's Causeway first, then maybe cross back into the Seattle Slew/Secretariat line with one of A.P. Indy's sons.

I'm just glad they did not choose Curlin. BTW, a Ghostzapper or Mineshaft cross would have been awesome to speculate on, as well.

Carl 26 Jan 2011 5:47 PM

To bad The Great Cigar isn't futile; He is one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen and tall dark and has good bone in his legs and pasturns. What a presence he has!

Donna S. 26 Jan 2011 5:51 PM

what about the size factor concerning the Quiet American in Bernardini?  She is already a huge mare, and one would think she would tend to produce monster foals already without adding in Quiet American, who has a number of very large offspring who take awhile to get going.  Several years ago had a 17 hand mare under my care who produced a QA colt that I think was the biggest behemouth I've ever seen.  Had OCD's like crazy and every manner of correcting surgery you could think of.

green0 26 Jan 2011 6:10 PM

Wow, do I dislike this match. Not Sea the Stars, Curlin or even A.P. Indy? So much of the excitement about Zen was the pure buzz everytime she stepped on the track. Now? Get used to hearing the statement "...the son (daughter) of Bernardini who the 2006 Preakness, the race in which Derby Champion Barbaro broke down and would later be euthanized." For a Champion like Zenyatta, whose publicity revived a dying industry, this is terrible news. Horasemen just can't seem to get it right.

Richardg 26 Jan 2011 6:13 PM

Given her size, I think Bernardini is a great fit conformation wise. I look forward to this and all goes well.

Tiznowbaby 26 Jan 2011 6:23 PM

i think they went with bernardini over ap indy because ap indy is a older stallion, who will be penisoned in the next several yrs and i think given her size, they didn't most likely want to stress him out trying to get on her, even with the help of a hill unless they had went with another monster stallion like midnight lute or quality road.

anna 26 Jan 2011 6:24 PM

Bernardini was always my first choice.  I thought it was possible Zen would go to Indy first, as he's getting long in tooth.  But I liked Bernadini, and my 2nd choice would have been Einstein...but Bernadini is now a proven sire where Einstein is just starting.  I think the out breeding makes it an excellent choice either way.

Slew 26 Jan 2011 6:45 PM

quiet American was the key bernardini+real quiet

race record 28starts 12-6-6 $6,332,282

this mating is great choice you still have ap indy

bloodline with street cry the question is

curlin/rachel alexandra vs bernardini/zenyatta which

will be better andwill they race against each other

secretariat 26 Jan 2011 7:03 PM

Although I was convinced she would be bred to AP Indy, and hoped she would, I couldn't be happier Zenyatta is going to Bernardini.  I picked him to win the Preakness the year he did and fell in love with him.  I followed his races and was very upset they retired him as a 3 year old.  As AP Indy's get better with age it's scarey to think what he could have done as a 4 year old.  Heck if I'm right, Bernardini is 8 years old and Zenyatta is 7, if they were kept in training they could have raced against each other.  Wouldn't that have been a race for the ages.  This foal will be special as soon as it hits the ground.  And I'm sure it will be followed closely and put out there for all of us to see.  Can't wait.  I hope next year she goes to Gian't Causeway.

Kristen Ohler 26 Jan 2011 7:08 PM

You didn't even mention Bernardini's 2 "up'n'comers" - AZ WARRIOR and TO HONOR AND SERVE, both of whom are graded stakes winners so far this year, THAS on the trail to the KD (not sure about AZW on KD Trail).  I was already interested in THAS, but I'm even more so now,knowing the sire is going to my beloved Zenyatta!

Big Brown's Buddy 26 Jan 2011 7:24 PM

Carl, I am totally with you on Eskendereya, He is one of the most spectacular looking horses I have seen in a long time. I have never seen a bad photo of his sire, Giants Causeway. I think the Nick is an A+ also, if I remember correctly.

Criminal Type 26 Jan 2011 7:28 PM

I think the choice of Bernardini was right on.But the most important thing to me is the health and well being of all involved and the happiness in seeing the first photos of mom with her colt or filly.That is going to be the best!!!

Tracy 26 Jan 2011 7:58 PM

They real gutsy move that not many have talked about is Blame! Yes, unproven at stud, but come on, what a storybook match that would have been between the two HOY's. Maybe Blame down the road, too bad AP did not get a chance.

Taxman 26 Jan 2011 8:02 PM

Should have gone to CURLIN. I liked A.P. Indy but never was a fan of Bernardini.  Zen and Curlin would have awesome foals.  Was also disapointed that Rachael did not go to CURLIN first.  I

Marie Henson 26 Jan 2011 8:14 PM

I was hoping for 17 hand Rock Hard Ten but notice that they Have Mr. Prospector and Kris S in common.  Too much in common?  I put in Rags to Riches and Empire Maker one time and got A+++.  

NebDiane 26 Jan 2011 8:19 PM

Very disappointing.  Was hoping for some creative thinking.  Time will tell.

hrseldy 26 Jan 2011 8:23 PM

would of bred her to indian charlie love the way his babies develop early. i also think tapit would of been a great choice also.

jamie d 26 Jan 2011 8:32 PM

I would have gone straight to the horses mouth. A P INDY !

pete 26 Jan 2011 8:38 PM

Ian---Aren't Blame and Zenyatta too closely related to Kris S. to be a good genetic mix? I checked your hypotheticals and found that match to be a "C" or "C+", I believe.

Karen in Texas 26 Jan 2011 8:44 PM

Well, who's to say what's too closely related...it could end up being an ideal match, but so far Arch with Mr. Prospector line mares is only about average (C+). It would be duplicating Kris S. 3x3, Mr. Prospector 4x4, and Forli 5x4; quite a bit of inbreeding there, so it would be unconventional, but not necessarily "wrong." But, most likely, there are better options for Zenyatta than Blame.

Ian Tapp 26 Jan 2011 9:08 PM

Bernardini is a terrific match...I would expect he is the "sire" of the next decade considering his first crops and his ability on the track

zenny 26 Jan 2011 9:38 PM

Zenyatta definitely needs to go to a "speed" sire.  I think Bernardini is a good choice.  Sure, many people feel she should have gone directly to the source (AP Indy)while he is still available, but I agreed with whoever said AP gets a number of "plodders"; better she be bred to a horse with high cruising speed.  To my mind, slightly better choices would have been Hard Spun or Quality Road; maybe even Ellusive Quality (QR's sire)since he's established as a sire, but I can't argue with Bernardini.

ROBINM 26 Jan 2011 9:57 PM

Donna S

 I can remember taking a good long look at Cigar in the paddock at Woodbine just prior to the 1996 running of the Breeders Cup Classic and he looked an absolutely magnificent specimen of a racehorse. So i suppose in one sense it's too bad he was a gelding but in another sense I hate to think of the many great performances we saw from him if it were not so,him and other great geldings like him, Kelso, Forego, and so many others. Good luck to Zenyatta in her first mating, only time will tell us what the foal will be capable of.

John T 26 Jan 2011 9:59 PM

John T-Cigar was not a gelding, he was infertile, but I know what you mean!

stellaria 26 Jan 2011 10:19 PM

Amazingly disappointing! The Fappiano line breeds sprinters. Just what the industry needs, more speed horses. Bernardini was pulled from the Belmont so he is suspect at distance. Can anyone say "Curlin"? I'm just dumbfounded.

Richardg 26 Jan 2011 10:44 PM

Not one horse is worthy but I guess Bernadini will do.

ofelia 26 Jan 2011 10:47 PM

Marie- Rachael is going to Curlin first   She is booked to him and from what they said at Lane's End she will be there early in February to be bred to him

amy 26 Jan 2011 10:53 PM


Are you the ghost of Charles Pelham of Lincolnshire? Did you breed Crab in 1722? Are you trying to breed horses for 4-mile heats?

Honestly, how much trouble do you think a Bernardini-Zenyatta offspring is going to have at 10 or even 12 furlongs? That's distance breeding. Bernardini is a MG1SW at 10f, so is Curlin, and neither won beyond 10f.


P.S. Bernardini is not Fappiano line. Fappiano's name appears in the pedigree, but will be in the foal's 4th generation.

Ian Tapp 26 Jan 2011 11:05 PM

@Kristen Ohler: Bernardini didn't 'win' the Preakness. Zen was a magnificent presence on the track, helped in large measure by an adoring public. She brought young women fans back to racing. Sea the Stars or Curlin would have been far better choices, especially since Bernardini's Fappiano line suggests the foal will be just another speed horse. Imagine that every story (certainly every one I write must) contains the line "...won the 2006 Preakness after favored Barbaro broke down and was later euthanized." This match may be a True Nicks A++, but it is a public relations F--. The industry blows it yet again!

Richardg 26 Jan 2011 11:12 PM

@Itapp: Ha ha, well said, but Curlin's 'loss' beyond 10 furlongs was a close one to Rags in his "rookie' year in her only TC run, running in a race Sheikh Mohammed wouldn't allow Bernardini to run. He won the Preakness (ditto Bernardini) and lost the Belmont by a head, running Rags into retirement in the process. What is lacking in this match - notwithstanding my personal reservations - is power.

Richardg 26 Jan 2011 11:21 PM

@Itapp: re your p.s., true, but that's an 'accounting' technicality - you get my point.

Richardg 26 Jan 2011 11:29 PM

Like most others I expected A P Indy.

I wonder if crossing in Bernardini's speed will work or the result will be a compromise that lacks the best features of either parent. A horse with more speed than Zenyatta, who is devoid of speed, may not have much speed. A horse with more distance capacity than Bernardini (inhaled by Invasor in the Classic) but less than Zenyatta could still be a 10 f horse - or not.

Come to think of it Invasor, who beat Bernardini in  the Classic has more in common with Zenyatta. He liked to run up to the horse in front, eyeball him and pass him. He had a passion for winning (12 11 0 0). Triple Crown winner in Uruguay, HOY in the USA and won the Dubai World Cup in second fastest time. Like to like mating, Invasor very fast and more precocious. Unproven as a stallion yet, maybe later.

Brigitte 26 Jan 2011 11:40 PM

Have a good time Zen, it is only just the beginning!!! :)

trackgirl 26 Jan 2011 11:47 PM

Richardg, just wanted to point out that AP Indy won the 12 furlong Belmont as did Rags to Riches.  Mineshaft won the 10 furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup,and the 10 furlong Suburban Handicap.  Bernardini won the 10 furlong Travers,Jockey Gold Cup and finished 2nd to Invasor in the 10 furong Classic.  All by AP Indy.  He has no problem getting distance horses.  He has sired well over 100 stakes winners.  What more could be said about the grandson of Secretariat, my favorite racehorse.  If the horse has Secretariat in him nothing more need to be said.  Not a fan of Curlin or Madaglia d'oro.  Hope Giant's Causeway or Eskenderya is in the future.  Blame should not be a consideration.  He is unproven, and his sire Arch is no star.

Kristen Ohler 27 Jan 2011 12:02 AM

I think a lot went into this decision. My first choice would have been AP Indy, however, there is a reason not to choose him. Zenyatta is a six year old mare, there is a good reproductive reason to make sure she is in foal this season. AP Indy has had some declining fertility and so the choice of a younger stallion that will readily settle her in foal is most likely the reason to select the younger stallion. Other than his size may be a little large for her, I think he is an excellent choice.

Silverbird 27 Jan 2011 12:16 AM

@Kristen Ohler: great observations, all of which would have pointed to A.P. Indy as the choice. I imagine his age was a consideration. But, notwithstanding that, he would have been only the safe choice. I would not have opted for 'safe,' and Bernardini is just a younger extension. Forgive me, but 10F is not distance, it's the classic mile and a quarter. And, while no one loves Secretariat more than me, his progeny have underperformed as he did on occassion. You may not be a 'fan' of Curlin or Madaglia d'oro, but they bring endurance. And, I say this as someone in the business, this match is a public relations nightmare. Not a consideration on this site, but it's there and will be talked about.

Richardg 27 Jan 2011 12:35 AM

I'm satisfied with Bernardini for most of the reasons stated already. I'm curious what you think about Tiznow as a future possibility?

diastu 27 Jan 2011 1:29 AM

I must admit, for me this is a bit of a shock. Can't say I like this match, I think Giant's Causeway was much the better fit. Certainly Eskendereya would also have been logical, but Bernardini, just don't care for this much..........I am sure I will get arguements to the contrary. The Mosses took a step back with this selection.

Deacon 27 Jan 2011 2:42 AM

It would be nice (albeit very very unlikely) to see them think even further outside the box and consider shipping her to Europe to be covered!

Her paternal grandsire Machiavellian had some good success with Sadler's Wells and Green Desert mares so why not consider the likes of Galileo, Cape Cross and even Sea the Stars?

Don't forget that Street Cry had a very good two year old out of a Galileo mare in Europe last year - SAAMIDD.  He is exepected to be a contender for many of the top races in 2011.

Just thought I'd throw something different into the mix!

pNewmarket 27 Jan 2011 5:19 AM

Kristen, you need to go research Arch again...17% stakes winners, 6 G1 including BC Classic winner, 28 SWs, 63 Stakes Horses (17%), 4 Champions, 49% winners as a broodmare sire including UNCLE MO...in 8 crops of racing age...over 25 million $$$ in earnings and getting better mares every year...he's a GEM.

Rachel 27 Jan 2011 5:46 AM

@richardg - I am curious why this would be a PR nightmare - other than thousands of people will be debating it ad infinitum. And I think that would have happened no matter who she was bred to.

This is probably the downside of the Mosses' openness with Z. They are going to hear it from all sides :)

Sue M 27 Jan 2011 8:15 AM

@pNewmarket: I'm with you, particularly on Sea the Stars, though I wanted Curlin.

@Deacon: Yes, a step back, particularly with her public.

Richard G 27 Jan 2011 8:17 AM

Richardg-Please don't perpetuate the idea that Secretariat was a dud at stud - like his maternal grandsire Princequillo he was a fantastic broodmare sire.  Remember, it takes two to produce a foal.

Susan from VA 27 Jan 2011 9:16 AM

I say,  Let the foal be produced , grow up and hit the tracks running before you claim he/she isnt going to be any good,  I expect someoen thought the same thing of Zenyatta, Curllin, Big Brown, Rachel Alexandra ,  until they hit the tracks and started running.  Geez, some of you proclaim to be god himself.  and you dont know any more of what this foal is going to do or be until it hits the tracks.  

This foal may turn out to be your next TC winner, who knows,  none of us does, do we?    Ian , gives this mating an A++, to me thats all I need to know,  What else happens remains to be seen.  Either way,  the world cant wait to see the little thing.  He/she will be famous just because of who his mom is, and what it does on the tracks will be an added bonus.

sodapopkid 27 Jan 2011 9:56 AM

@Susan from VA: I didn't say Secretariat was a dud. I said his foals underperformed, meaning they weren't him. Gee, of course not! All that says is genetics is only one component of a match. That's why I am disappointed with the Bernardini choice. He rates an A++ as a genetic match, but - in my view - falls short in other considerations.

Richard G 27 Jan 2011 9:56 AM

Please, please tell me this has to do with foal size and not money., not fame, not future business.  Why take the care that has been taken with Zen only to ship her to a farm, she is unfamiliar with and breed her.  You have the sire of sires at Lanes End; where she is and is comfortable.  This cross makes no sense to me whatsoever. Someone please explain or my faith in team Z has been thwarted.

horsemen 27 Jan 2011 10:50 AM


Would you consider this match (Given you'd want both possibilities) better as a breed to race or to produce something that might contribute down the road to the breed?  

I'm curious because I would think you'd want a little more line breeding to produce a potential, say stallion candidate. (No more Prospector, in my opinion, which is what I don't like about this)

Sometimes it's a good race horse, not necessarily brilliant, then becomes the next great sire.

Horsefirst 27 Jan 2011 11:08 AM

Did Bernardini retire sound? People knock Curlin but that sucker was tough and SOUND. I know Afleet Alex had a bone issue but he was tough, is he too closely related to Z to be potential mate someday? Given Z's personality I wouldn't mind seeing her bred to some hot head with too much talent (QR?). That type of cross got us Man O'War and I've heard it's happened before. A docile mare to cool a hot headed stallion can get you a talented foal that is willing to be trained.

golden broom 27 Jan 2011 11:24 AM

I'm sure the Mosses had their reasons for this match.  I love The Queen as much as anyone out there, but sometimes great horses do not reproduce themselves.  I hope this "ain't" so with Z.  Anyway, here's hoping she has a wonderful healthy and sound baby who, may grow up and get to the Big Dance.  Have fun Z.  I'll be waiting anxiously.

Robin from Maryland 27 Jan 2011 11:52 AM

Tiznow's problem is his size; he's a big, robust sort of horse (with a head like a dinosaur, as one person put it). And he gets later maturing stock; some of his have run well at 2, like champion Folklore, but the ones that were good at 2 tend to have physical problems at 3. Better to wait with them. Don't need to double up the 'can't run them until 3 or later' genes.

I still think More Than Ready would have been a good choice. Especially as I think Big Z would have been a monster on turf on Euro courses; More Than Ready gives precocity and speed, and he has sired brilliant turf horses in Oz.

Pedigree Ann 27 Jan 2011 12:18 PM


I think it's a good match for her first cover. Bernardini has runners (albeit just one crop so far), so we have some gauge on what he produces. In his first crop, he's proven he can sire top class racehorses; they have speed and seem to appreciate distance (he has GSW To Honor and Serve at 9f, the longest distance available in a graded event so far). These traits mirror how Bernardini himself performed on the track.

As far as future impact on the breed, no one knows how good of a producer Zenyatta will be, etc., so her sons shouldn't be thought of as "stallion candidates" until they have proven themselves on the track. At this point I think you have to breed to get a racehorse, which looks like the Mosses' motivation with this mating.

Ian Tapp 27 Jan 2011 12:19 PM

golden broom,

Yes, reportedly Bernardini retired sound. He raced during his 3YO season only. Had he remained in training in 2007, he may have had quite a rival in Curlin.

Ian Tapp 27 Jan 2011 12:23 PM

Can't fault the mating as Bernadini is off to a great start as a sire of good 2YO stakes winners.  I'm glad they stayed away from AP Indy (no shot at throwing a Derby winner with that match-up).  I'd hope that some foresight in planning to make Zenyatta into a Blue Hen mare would result in sending her to Europe for matings with the Urban Sea brothers Galileo and Sea The Stars.  Any colt or filly from such mating would be invaluable for breeding future stars of Turf, Dirt or Synthetics.  We're watching to see more enterprise in her broodmare career than was demonstrated in her racing career.  Mating with the Northern Dancer line should be a must.

Ranagulzion 27 Jan 2011 12:32 PM

sceptre, that's interesting you would bring up turf potential. I had written the connections a few times about maybe running her on turf, really liked the Arlington Million. With her feet and knees and record on synthetics, it seemed like a natural. But I haven't seen any Moss-owned turf horses & don't know if they have any. Just thought it would be neat to have Grade I's on all three surface types.

Karen in Indiana 27 Jan 2011 1:01 PM

I just do not get the facination people have for Curlin. Yes, he retired sound but in my opinion his career was carefully managed by his questionable connections. He also has one of the ugliest & longest heads I have ever seen. I don't know why anyone would suggest she be bred to a horse with whom she shares an F nick rating. Thankfully the Mose's are smarter and want better for Zenyatta then that. I would almost bet they have her future breedings planned out for the next several years and Curlin is not even in the running. You can also be sure that they, the Moses, have the best bloodstock advisers available advising them on her future mates.

Criminal Type 27 Jan 2011 1:02 PM

Zenyatta will probably be a complete bust as a broadmare.  Most great horses come from obscure mares.

sylvester 27 Jan 2011 1:03 PM

Should of used Dyanformer.

Zen Fan 27 Jan 2011 1:07 PM

Yes bernadini is a very great second place horse to

INVASOR They called INVASOR The machine.Not too much credit is given to him as a stud but wait for his foals.Maybe because he is an imigrant horse, but won Breeders cup Dubai and beated everyone's rear end. Don't get me wrong I love A.P. I have a beutiful Colt by him, but I also have a big chestnut filly by the machine INVASOR the best horse we have seen so far,yes much better than Curlin, Sorry berny.

better than bernadini 27 Jan 2011 1:20 PM

@Richard - just wondering why you feel that breeding to Bernardini would be a PR disaster?? I'm assuming that with Z, any horse they choose will have its vocal supporters or detractors.

Sue M 27 Jan 2011 1:55 PM

To the people wondering about mating her to Tiznow, there's always his (unproven) son Colonel John - a beautiful, more refined horse who's won on dirt, turf, and synthetics, who won the Travers (barely) and blazed a mile on the turf. But, y'know, unproven and perhaps not the most impressive pedigree (one can dream).

I trust the Mosses to do what's right with Queen Z. He may not have her charisma or inspire much in people but I agree that Bernardini is a fine physical and pedigree match. He's gotten some good 2YOs and they should improve at 3. There's also the Queen herself to consider - he can give speed, she can give stamina and longevity.

I think it would be amazing if she went to Sea The Stars at some point, though. Or perhaps a German stallion. Her pedigree has a wonderful international flavor; I think she can go anywhere and match up with the best of the stallions.

Justine 27 Jan 2011 2:49 PM

ZenFan,  they couldnt use Dynaformer,  Havent you heard by now he isnt good with maiden mares.  That has been all over the blogoshpere.   Zenyatta is a maiden mare,  maybe down the road they will choose him,  no time soon. ON top of all that , I dont forsee the Moss's making Zenyatta into a breeding machine.  Unllike most owners, they love her to much to do her like that, physically or emotionally.   I wouldnt be surprised if you see her deliver 5 foals within the next 10 or so years then you will be done seen all they are going to permit her to have.    Remember,  they are not in this for the money.  They want these few foals for themselves.   Thats why it will only be  few. JMO

sodapopkid 27 Jan 2011 2:53 PM

I think Zenyatta would have done real well with Curlin. Hey, that foal would have had two even rear socks, a pretty blaze, and a great late kick. Curlin's conformation shot on the Stallion Register is to die for.

I did think they would choose AP Indy, but am very pleased with the choice of Bernadini. His topline is much better than AP Indy's topline in their Stallion Regsiter photos. Does anyone know if AP Indy's topline was better as a young horse?

So .. now the hard part ... waiting .....

Mary in Vermont 27 Jan 2011 3:04 PM

I am not excited about Bernardini.  Why settle for son when the prize is A P Indy?  The only horse worthy of Zenyatta sadly cannot reproduce and that is Cigar.  I pray to God they never let Curlin touch Zenyatta.

Lynnhurst 27 Jan 2011 3:05 PM

Forgot about Invasor! I would love to see a European cross too. I hope they consider some stallions that ran at 4 or the rare bird that ran at 5. As for the comment about Curlin's head - last I saw, horses run with their bodies and legs. Jug heads like Tiz Now, Curlin and Man O'War...yeah, no one should breed to them because of their head shape? Ridiculous!  One question that has not been answered, will the Moss's give her a year in between each foal to keep the Queen in optimum health and ensure each baby gets 110% nourishments? I hope they don't breed her every year for the next 10 - 15 yrs. Lets go for quality not quantity...

golden broom 27 Jan 2011 3:10 PM

The Mosses have had several nice turf horses in the past, including Madeo and Cozi Rosie just recently. They let their horses run on whatever surface they are best suited for. Mike Smith always said that he thought Zenyatta would be able to run on the grass, but how many 17.2 turf horses do you see? I can't think of any.

Zenyatta does not need to be bred to a 17-hand stud like Dynaformer or a big heavy stud like Curlin. Bernardini is about a hand shorter than she is and leans to the sleek, light-bodied type. He should be a perfect match physically. We are not breeding papers to papers here, but trying to complement her by downsizing and injecting some tactical speed. He is inbred to Bold Ruler, and his damsire is inbred to Dr. Fager. These were two of our fastest, most brilliant racehorses. Bernardini is also off to a fast start at stud. We know he can sire stakes horses.

I would imagine Zenyatta will be bred to Giant's Causeway at some point. I wouldn't breed her to Eskendereya myself, considering he had a pretty short career, and broke down before the Derby. I think GC would be a good match for her in all respects.

ceil 27 Jan 2011 3:17 PM

golden broom,

In nature, mares are bred each season, and when in proper reproductive health, domestic mares are best suited to carrying a foal each season. The uterus is actually most healthy when in reproductive mode.

After foaling, the mare's uterus goes through a natural period of involution before she returns to heat. For healthy mares, skipping a season can actually cause an increase in reproductive issues.

If the mare does experience a dystocia or some kind of problem, not breeding the mare could become an option. The vets and broodmare managers at Lane's End are among the best in the world, and I'm sure they will make the best management decisions for Zenyatta and her foals' well being.


Ian Tapp 27 Jan 2011 3:25 PM

Ian,  But wouldnt you agree,  the Mosses arent in this for the money, they will in fact keep her foals.   Dont you expect that they will not let her become a breeding machine.   I dont, but what is your take on it , Ian?


sodapopkid 27 Jan 2011 3:34 PM


It certainly doesn't seem to be about the money for the Mosses. It would seem they're out to enjoy their mare and enjoy racing her foals.

Zenyatta is a 7YO. Let's imagine that she has a successful career as a broodmare; you might expect her to have a max of 8-10 foals in her lifetime. I wouldn't call that a "breeding machine."

Given her racing accomplishments, I'd think 8-10 foals is quite reasonable. All things being equal, the breed stands to improve if our best racing and producing mares are bred more often, and the lesser mares are bred less often or not at all.

Ian Tapp 27 Jan 2011 3:46 PM

Thinking has changed about breeding every year with dogs. Don't know why it would be any different with any other mammal. It used to be advised that you give your bitch a heat or two off in between breedings thinking that was how to let her completely recover. Now they say they have completely recovered in 3 months and go ahead and breed them back to back while they are young, and have a young uterus, as nature intended, because the ravages of progesterone is taking it's toll on the uterus and aging it whether or not you breed them.

I think Curlin has a beautiful head. And I'm picky about heads. Yes, it could be slightly wider between the eyes. Every other aspect is magnificent. All in all, one of the better heads. As someone said, they don't run on their heads. No horse is gonna be 1000% perfect so don't hold out for perfect.

Mary in VT 27 Jan 2011 3:48 PM

Ian, Do you forsee the MOss's selling any of her foals?  I don't. Do you?

sodapopkid 27 Jan 2011 3:59 PM

I loved Bernardini as a race horse and as the second pick behind A.P. Indy in this sire line.  A lot of us on this blog can look at the pedigrees, but we cannot see the conformations up close of these sires or maybe their offspring so we can see what they are throwing, especially in the case of a young sire.  Breeding is a crap shoot , no matter how much you know or how much you see.  This foal will be a result of picking marbles (genes) out of a swimming pool filled with them.  If you have short-backed marbles and long-backed marbles in that swimming pool, don't think you are going to get a medium-backed marble.  I have bred a mare, not perfect herself, who always produced a pretty correct foal with a Storm Cat stallion (terrible knees) and got the nicest filly I've ever bred.  There are so many combinations, and sometimes you are lucky and come up with something nice.  Oh, but there is so much more to it.  Zenyatta was not really in the upper echelon as a yearling ($60K), but she had good bloodlines, conformation, and was incredibly well-managed and cared for and allowed to develop into almost the perfect horse.  Environment can break or make the bloodlines and the conformation.  Who knows what the BZ match will produce.  It's a mystery, and that's what breeding is all about.  But raising, breaking and training young horses is the equally and maybe more important half.

Diana_NV 27 Jan 2011 4:06 PM

I was never a Curlin follower, but I have to say, I have always thought he was one of the most beautuful colts, I think he is a beautiful stallion.   I know he and Zenyatta dont have agreeing peidgrees (nicks) but that dont have anything to do with his very handsome looks.

sodapopkid 27 Jan 2011 4:14 PM

New article on Blood-Horse:

Choosing Zenyatta's First Mating

Ian Tapp 27 Jan 2011 4:45 PM

Forget about Curlins looks, that was not the point. The point was, Nick wise, they are an F. Why send a mare of Zenyattas caliber to a stallion who is a poor match for her, when the Moss's have already stated they would not overbreed her. Obviously this means they want to make every breeding count and will send her to the stallions who best fit her. Last time I checked an F means Failure.

Criminal Type 27 Jan 2011 5:02 PM

I too was surprised by the selection, however, I look forward to Zenyatta's ongoing saga.  And since she never disappoints, I'm sure it will continue to be "Unbelievable".  

beknighted 27 Jan 2011 5:08 PM

I find this cross very interesting.  I agree that Bernardini may put some tactical speed on the table.  I always look at "type" first, then bloodlines.  Regardless of bloodlines, you don't want to breed a beagle type to a collie type.  In this sense, Bernardini and Z are a very good match.  And the bloodlines work too.  I too hope they go to Giant's Causeway. . . As to Curlin, I was a great fan of the horse on the track, but he is not a good match for Z typewise in my opinion.  I don't think he is a good match for Rachel either, typewise, but I appreciate Mr. Jackson's sentimental reasons for wanting to breed the two.  That should not be a reason for breeding an animal, but I doubt if the offspring will end up with a kill buyer regardless of its success or not on the track so let the gazillionare have his fun.

Kat 27 Jan 2011 5:21 PM

Richardg. I agree with what you said about the public relations nitemare.  I'm happy the Moss's finally decided.  And I agree Secretariat didn't make the best sire, but we all know he is known for being a great broodmare sire, and what a great one he was with Storm Cat and AP Indy. Horse First, you're right on about a good race horse, not necessarily a brilliant one can be the next great sire.  Malibu Moon, by AP Indy, who finished 3rd on the general sire list for 2010 ran twice as a 2 year old winning a maiden special at Hollywood and finished second in his other race.  He "amassed total earnings of $33,840.00" in his career never making it to the races as a 3 year old.  

Does anybody remember the great Ladys Secret by Secretariat?  She produced nothing worth remembering. Mom's Command?  And there is alot more broodmares that were great racehorses who didn't produce much.  And for the asking, Bernardini retired sound.  The owners, I belive to be the Darley's, wanted to bring him to the breeding shed. And Bernardini stands 16.1 1/2 hands.  And no I didn't do my research on Arch, still don't like him.  And again to Richardg, I know 10 furlongs is not a "distance", but do you think AP Indys can't get a distance as some people seem to think?

Kristen Ohler 27 Jan 2011 7:27 PM

regarding Curlin for Z:  I highly doubt that you will ever see that match up.  A breeding shed combo between the Moss' and the Jackson's would probably happen after Zenyatta speaks her first words.

After the shock of not using AP wore off, I like the pairing with Bernardini.  To Honor And Serve is my early Derby fave, even over Uncle Mo.

Safe delivery, and a healthy foal!

PomDeTerre 27 Jan 2011 8:11 PM

Great.  Nothing like two slow horses getting together that will produce a horse that can run slow for long distances.  Both couldn't win the big one.  Why not Curlin ?

draynay 27 Jan 2011 8:27 PM

Very interesting, I'm one of those who thought the first choice would be AP Indy.  I saw Bernardini race in the Classic at CD. I spent a lot of time watching him in the paddock, he has a great presence about him,great conformation and an effortless style of running. He looks like a great choice to me. I did notice his conception rate is 75%, so there is a 1 out of 4 chance Zen wouldn't settle. I'm also a Cigar fan saw him in the BCC in Canada. I know they spent a lot of money trying to increase his semen count but with no succes. Breeding is a BIG GAMBLE,you can breed the best to the best and still get a dud.

quarterhossgal 27 Jan 2011 8:30 PM

Ian,  as I have said before,  Nothing lites up a blog like the name Zenyatta.   Her name alone brings in the bloggers.  She is the media queen.  Lord, she will be in the spotlight for a long time.  Go Zenyatta.  

sodapopkid 27 Jan 2011 9:47 PM

Pretty Polly was considered one of the greatest racemares of all time winning 22 of her 24 starts and finishing second in the other two .Her wins included 3 of the 5 British Classics in 1904, 1000 Guineas, Oaks, and St.Leger. She never produced anything half as good as herself but it was the descendants of her offspring who went on to produce some great horses in racing history. So we must remember as Zenyatta enters her new career as a broodmare if the same thing should happen that she does not produce anything near herself sparks can fly later on in the offspring she produces.

John T 27 Jan 2011 10:47 PM

goldenbroom.  Afleet Alex's bone issue was caused by a bone bruise (almost assuredly from his Preakness stumble) that ended up losing blood flow to it, therefore causing brittle bone.  Supposedly, it would take 6 to 8 months for it to recover, which is forever in racing, hence the retirement.

Anyway, I am a huge Afleet Alex fan, so I would love to see a mating with Z and Alex.  They have an A++ truenicks rating.  Alex's Mr. P/Mr. P crossed offspring have done well (why the match is a A++ rating.)  Afleet Express is the best example.  Alex is not a big horse and he was precocious.  Can you just imagine the "come-from-behind" monster they would produce?  Just remembering the Belmont call "Afleet Alex passed right by Giacomo like he was standing still" gives me goosebumps to this day.  I don't think they would produce a plodder given Alex's propensity to love any distance he was asked to race at.  He even won at 6f - the Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn.  

Cigar fans -  I was honored that I got to get my picture taken with him at the Kentucky Horse Park.  I got to put my hand on his neck.  He's just as stunning today as he was when he was racing. I am serious when I say that it looks like (with some tuning up) he could head right back onto the track.  If you want to see the big fellow up close, head to the KY Horse Park and go the the Hall of Champions show.    

sehgator 27 Jan 2011 10:50 PM

Well, I too was hoping it was going to be AP Indy. I was a little surprised when it wasn't. I went on you tube and found this on Bernardini.


What a spectacular horse. Gave me the chills.

I say name the baby "BEHOLD."

Stacy 27 Jan 2011 10:58 PM

Let's hope the foal happen's to run into a weak crop of 3yr olds whether male or female.  We all know what happened the only time either of these two faced top competition.

Bernardani - meet Invasor.  "hi Invasor, bye Invasor"

Zenyatta - meet Blame.  "hey wait up Blame"

A little luck could get us all a decent horse to watch as long as the races are carefully manipulated, similar to the careers of each one of these "great horses".

Yankeetrev 27 Jan 2011 11:12 PM

A P Indy is only averaging 55% in mares bred = live foals.

Bernardini is a going at a good 75%. This info is based on 2009 & 2010 foals.

If Zenyatta were 3 or 4yo I might take a chance on A P Indy.  IMHO Bernardini is a great choice.

Tairaterces 27 Jan 2011 11:29 PM

.....my choice  for Zenyatta.one of the best new stallions Birdstone...remenber this ..summer bird  and  mine that bird two champions...this is not a joke

william 28 Jan 2011 12:02 AM

@Yankeetrev: So, I guess your point is that "Blame" - with a 'career' of 13 starts that included 2 maiden specials and 2 allowance races, a loss to Regal Ransom and a 4 1/2 length crushing to 'monster' "Haynesfield" on his favorite track - is a "great" horse.

Richardg 28 Jan 2011 12:15 AM

next 6 matings should be

because the best sires there have

over the years represented here with

the mating with bernardini you have

ap indy and quiet american

1 giant's causeway storm cat

2 madaglia doro el prado

3 big brown danzig

4 point given to talented not to try  

5 quality road elusive quality

6 lemon drop kid kingmambo

secretariat 28 Jan 2011 12:20 AM

forgot the own giacomo he will mate with

her eventually

secretariat 28 Jan 2011 12:34 AM

@sehgator: I hadn't thought of Afleet Alex. One thing you'd be able to say about the offspring that a chart can't measure - it would have a surplus of courage.

Richardg 28 Jan 2011 1:50 AM

Dynaformer would have been great, but he is too big....he's 17h, I think, and Z's mama produces large foals anyway. This would be too dangerous for her.  A.P. is 16.2 and his son, Bernardini is 16.1, so maybe that was the deciding factor. Tiznow is large as well. I picked A.P. What disturbs me more than anything is the lack of any evidence any of these sires has any real durability!  They don't race them long enough to know.  I'm getting impatient with an industry that races horses less than 8 times and that's it! Bernardini raced 8 times, A.P. only 11.  We don't know diddly about any of these tbs.  Zenyatta and Goldikova are really throwbacks anymore....20 or more starts! Pull up a pedigree query on just about any stallion today and look at his progeny report to see how few of the kids race longer than 8 or 9 times! Then pull up a progeny report for Round Table! Nobody races for the fun of it anymore...the goal is to win a couple signature races and that's it. Done, done and done! Where is the sport headed? Oblivion, I fear!

Deltalady 28 Jan 2011 3:17 AM

I'm glad to see some sense being spoken when talking about mares producing a foal every year.  This is what nature intended!  In the wild a mare will produce a foal every year from the age of about 2/3 until she dies.  If nature did not intend for a mare to reproduce every year then she would not come back into season after giving birth.

I am not a believer in sending maiden mares to unproven stallions.  An inexperienced stallion can frighten a maiden mare and a maiden mare can do a lot of damage with one well aimed kick.  Not to mention the fact that the stallion, or mare for that matter, could turn out to be a dud.

Zenyatta's paternal-line is top class turf so it would make sense to send her to some of the best turf stallions in the world.  With the greatest respect to US turf stallions, the best turf stallions stand in Europe.

pNewmarket 28 Jan 2011 5:18 AM

Some horses in addition to Zenyatta and Goldikova still race for years.  Einstein ran 29 times between ages 3 and 7 with a record of 11-4-3 and Grade I wins on all three surfaces.  I originally thought he must be a gelding since they didn't retire him to the breeding shed after a few years.  Maybe his owners kept running him because he came from"unfashionable" lines, and they didn't think he'd have a lot mares coming his way.  No matter what his breeding, he was a good racehorse and apparently a sound one.  Probably not a good match for Zenyatta, though.

Susan from VA 28 Jan 2011 9:29 AM

So SAD    ..... that the queen Z and king AP are not marrying; buy a court jester Bern got involved because of humans.......  

trixie 28 Jan 2011 9:35 AM

I want to know if Yankeetrev is related to Drayneigh.

Criminal Type 28 Jan 2011 9:36 AM

Recently there have been human studies proving that siblings born within 3 years, specifically less than 18 months from another child have several fold greater risk of Autism. Early speculation as this has to do with key elemental / minerals robbed of the mother's body to support the earlier pregnancy. So the argument that just because mother nature allows it, doesn't necessarily mean it's the "best". I've also talked to people who breed horses and consecutive pregnancies while nursing do certainly tell in the mare's coat...so what is going on in the inside? I wouldn't breed her every year if she were my horse. And if I were a breeder purchasing a baby, I may not even bother to race him or her, just get the line going...

golden broom 28 Jan 2011 9:57 AM

I'm disappointed in their choice, but, since it's their horse, they could, of course, breed her to anyone! I think there is so much more to breed for than just pedigree and size, which brings stallions like Big Brown into the picture, and Smarty Jones. To be a true race horse, they have to have that inner 'something' that makes them want to outrun some other horse, to be in front, to gobble up ground and get there first, to have that iron will to win. Can it be bred into one? I don't know. It never hurts to try, though, does it? The Mosses have a true Champion. They should've bred to one.

Peggy 28 Jan 2011 10:56 AM

I am a breeder (although not of thoroughbreds) and am a good friend of someone who breeds thoroughbreds (as sporthorses, not for flat racing) and there is no problem with breeding for consecutive foals.  I don't recommend breeding on foal heat, especially if there has been any problem with the foaling process, and if the mare fails to regain condition (usually the loss of condition occurs during lactation), you can give the mare a year off.  However, a well-fed and healthy mare should have no problem with consecutive breedings.  In fact, mares given years off between foaling tend to to have more difficulty getting in foal.  

Susan from VA 28 Jan 2011 11:12 AM

I agree with Golden Broom! The whole "nature intended" idea is hogwash. In many countries young girls are married off as soon as they can bear children. This can be as young as ten or twelve years old. I think we would all agree that this is less than appealing for social and physical reasons. But that is as nature intended so it must be all right......

And we all know that being pregnant drains a person's body of vitamins and minerals. It makes sense that doing double duty (nursing a foal who is draining minerals while also growing a foal that is draining minerals) will take an immense physical toll on the mare. By the time the foal is weaned, it is almost time for the mare to begin again and start the cycle all over again. Makes me exhausted just thinking about it.

I hope the Mosses don't turn her into a baby machine either. I think all mares should have a year between foals. Just because the uterus is healthy does not mean the mare is....

East Goer 28 Jan 2011 12:07 PM

I too thought she would be going to AP Indy.  He is a proven stallion (obviously).  But, his rating has declined as younger stallions predominate.  Do you think this was a factor in choosing Bernardidi over his sire?

will 28 Jan 2011 12:27 PM

It's always nice to see an insightful, logical and informative piece from Draynay. It must be getting close to spring as he has managed to crawl out from under his proverbial rock. In another life Draynay must have been a $2500 claimer no ome wanted.  

Deacon 28 Jan 2011 12:31 PM

Criminal Type - I am just pointing out the obvious in this case.  This isn't simply these two but most horses these days.  The look is always towards the breeding and not the racing and competition.  If you think that Z ran against top notch horses other than the Breeders Cup (this year only) you are simply lying to yourself. Trust me there is a reason Z never raced at Saratoga.  There was also a reason Bernardini was retired so soon - while still sound.  Both these horses lost when looked in the eye and challanged, that's all - they were both good horses.  Not great, good.  And neither could afford to have more blemishes on their record when concerning their breeding, that's why they are in the barn now not at the track.  

yankeetrev 28 Jan 2011 12:41 PM


You're joking,right? This is a great match.

Mike Relva 28 Jan 2011 12:43 PM


As always you bring neg garbage when Zenyatta is mentioned. You shouldn't talk about "couldn't win the big one" when someone as yourself is used to failure on a regular basis!

Mike Relva 28 Jan 2011 12:47 PM

Easy Goer - You are very misinformed about the demands of breeding on the mare's body.  Equine and human reproductive physiology are not identical.  Furthermore, Zenyatta is a fully mature mare - not a two-year old. The time of greatest demand on the dam is during lactation - especially the first three months.  The first "third" of pregnancy is relatively non-demanding on the mare's body.  You really don't need to up her feed until the last "third" of pregnancy.  There really is no reason to keep a foal on its dam past the first 3 or 4 months of life.  After the first 3 months, the quality of the mare's milk falls off rapidly, and the foals begin getting their nutrition elsewhere - grass, creep feed, etc.  The most demanding time on the mare's body from nursing is in the first 3 months or so - the time during which the pregnancy is the least demanding.  Actually, the best time to wean the foal is at 3 - 4 months.  You don't have to worry about the foal's "mental health,"  if there is a friendly sane gelding or mare to serve as babysitter and other foals to play with.  You don't have to worry about the foal's physical health because it is no longer getting the majority of its nutrition from its dam.  Please don't anthropomorphize.

Susan from VA 28 Jan 2011 1:20 PM

Perfect match!

As long as they don't mate her to the overrated Quality Road who couldn't get the 10f riding on the back of a pick-up.

Hong Kong Fuey 28 Jan 2011 3:13 PM

Easy Goer,

Susan from VA is correct--you don't even have to increase the feed on a mare until the last three months of the pregnancy and the foal is pretty much weaned by 3 or four months of age.

You cannot compare horses to humans.  First, women are the sole source of nutrition for a baby until almost 6 months.  Foals are eating solid food pretty soon after being born.  

Also, nursing human mothers do not get pregnant very easily at all.  Most have to have fully weaned their baby before they will begin to ovulate.  Horses on the other hand come into season 9 to 12 days after foaling and are very fertile then.  Nature making it difficult for women to get pregnant while breast feeding while making it very easy for mares to get pregnant should give you a hint that pregnancy and feeding a baby just isn't as hard on a mare as they are on a human.

Broodmares have a wonderful life.  When did pregnancy suddenly become a disease in our society?

JAJ 28 Jan 2011 3:24 PM

Hong Kong Fuey,

I have drawn the following conclusions from your post:

1. Zenyatta lacks stamina. To remedy this, she must be bred to a stallion who won at 10f.

2. A racehorse's max winning distance dictates the max limit for his offspring. This is how genetics and inheritance work.

3. Quality Road, a MG1SW at 9f and MG1SP at 10f, would be unable to win at 10f even if aided by a motorized vehicle.



P.S. Just kidding...

Ian Tapp 28 Jan 2011 3:55 PM


1. No.Zenyatta has plenty of stamina on her own.

2. Yes.Most of the time that's how genealogy works,there's always exceptions to the rule as we both know.Quality Road was a speedy horse who dominated meager competition up to 9f,but shortened stride going 10f against top flight company,these types usually re-produce themselves at best.

3. Yes! Ha! You know what I mean.! 10f was just too much for him.

PS.  in hindsight,QR was a top class Miler and Outstanding mares like Zenyatta rarely re-produce themselves on the track.It would be a shame if this hypothetical mating turned out an offspring that couldn't get the Classic distances,that's why Bernardini is a good match.He could carry his speed at least the 10f. BTW- AP Indy would've been my 1st choice.


Hong Kong Fuey 28 Jan 2011 5:56 PM

Mike Relva;

          Well said about Draynay. He should be barred from the Bloodhorse blogs. Nothing but negativity and sarcasam every time he posts a blog. This is just getting tired................  

Deacon 28 Jan 2011 6:45 PM


I agree regarding QR being a miler, many times mentioned this myself in the past year. Ron Ellis stated the same prior to the Breeders. Has brilliant speed,but distance limitations.

Mike Relva 28 Jan 2011 7:19 PM

Yankeetrev, What's your Oopinion of Gio Ponte ? You know, the Eclipse award winning Turf horse who is no slouch on dirt either. Because he looked Zenyatta in the eye and it scared him into second. I know this is a what if, but if you watch the 2010 classic, Zenyatta had passed Blame one or two strides past the wire. I believe had she not been squeezed from BOTH sides at the break we would not be having this conversation. The fact is Zenyatta is always going to have detractors like Drayneigh. Why ? Because she was a charismatic winner. Is that unreasonable? Of course it is, but it's true none the less. It's like people hating Donald Trump because he is rich. I think you get my point. While i understand what your saying about pedigree getting more attention when selecting a stallion for a mare then their statistic's, Isnt't that the way it has always been done ? You match the pedigrees to stallions who best suit your mare then from those selected stallions you chose the on who fits her best in those other areas such as distance won at, physical charactoristics, running style and possibly progeny performances. I am no expert, but as I pointed out in an earlier post, you can bet the farm that the Mosses are getting advise from the best bloodstock people in the business.

Criminal Type 28 Jan 2011 8:02 PM

Ian,  Are my eyes decieving me?   Musket Man is only $2,500 for a mating?   Gosh,  anyone can afford him,  your regular joe on the street can afford to have MM for their dam's sire.   What gives Ian, He always came in the money in his races,  and we have to give it to him, he was never a slouch in his races.  So, why such a low stud fee?

sodapopkid 28 Jan 2011 10:02 PM

As to the tangential topic of pros vs cons of breeding mares every year-  I tend to side with those who feel it better to give them an occasional year off. While it may be true that, all else equal, they may have more difficulty in conceiving following an off year this alone is not enough (for me) to practice the every year routine. Also, what may be observed in "nature"-"natures way"- is not, in itself, proof positive of the ideal- or an "absolute truth". Fact is, many mares undergo various degrees of physical stress during their last trimester, ever worsening as they near term. Easy for many to ignore this, and rationalize that it's nature's way. Some of these physical stresses can take their toll through the years, whereas an occasional year off can often help heal some of the damage rendered. Oftentimes it isn't the pregnancy itself that caused the initial insult-ex. a mare prone to lymphangitis- but it can be the pregnancy that exacerbates the problem and renders her ever more susceptible to a worsening situation in later years and/or later pregnancies. An occasional year off may to some extent allow her vasculature to partially heal/rebound. Again, this is but one example, but the dynamic could well hold true for a host of other maladies, some less apparent than others.  

sceptre 28 Jan 2011 11:02 PM


I think $2,500 is fair value and will allow him to be competitive. Gutsy, consistent racehorse, good black type in the family, same tail female as Saffron Walden, Henrythenavigator, Malibu Prayer, Silent Screen, etc.

Still, Yonaguska/Fortunate Prospect doesn't scream commercial, so the fee reflects the market reality. Hopefully he gets a nice book of mares that suit him well, and I'm sure those breeding to race will be very intrigued.

Ian Tapp 29 Jan 2011 1:49 AM

Glad to see Bernadini,yet I am a Giant's Causeway fan. Curious about using a cross within the Kingmambo line.

Any comment on the bad ankles of the Bold Ruler line?

At 6 she has many foals to come and agree with the year off tween foals. All Hail the Queen.

Steve O 29 Jan 2011 5:29 AM

I hope he doesnt get shipped off to Japan.    I hate the thought that our horses get sent away from the states.

I always have wondered,  How does these horses get used to hearing people talk to them in the English language, then get shipped off to these foreign countries, and have to hear them speak to them in Janpanese or any other foreign language,    Can anyone elaborate on this?   seems pretty weird to me.   I cant understand Janpanese without a translator, I wonder if horses have the same problem.  

sodapopkid 29 Jan 2011 6:44 AM

Well I'm jumping in late but I have been reading and thinking about Zen’s first mating a long time.

Just a few comments - I know how wonderful AP is but I would NEVER and I mean NEVER breed to a ridgling.  Ridgling or cryptorchid (one undescended testicle) is NOT a characteristic I would ever consider a disregardable negative trait in planning the breeding of an athlete.  

TB breeders ignore this FAR too much as far as I can see As well as mouth malocclusions and other congenital undesirable defects including leg defects... go figure.

I see that there is a pretty high rate of cryptorchid horses in AP Indy grandsons too. Hmmm.

Plus logisticly, Conception rate of AP might be decreasing and lets face it she is 17.2 hands and a younger stallion should be able to cover and settle her better.  

I do understand that AP Indy is a most successful sire; still I would rather breed to whole horse, every time.  So knowing the AP Indy influence is good for making a racehorse considering Zenyatta’s, breeding a son is a good (or better) choice.  I liked Pulpit (bit older more proven)  but I can easily see Bernardini especially after reading the write up on it and hearing Dottie and the Teams own personal experience with Zen’s sister by Bernardini.I think its smart to take her to a younger stud and get her settled – plus the Mr P 4 back comes in and that’s a positive over old AP.

In evaluation of Bernardinis conformation I think he is extremely balanced and solid horse - He does (however limited he is being young) seem to produce precocious young too and that is a plus when looking to moderate Z's late blooming huge frame.

I did also like Einstein for her but this sounds like a good first choice.  I did not like her to GiantsCauseway much, as her ½ brother Souper Saver by GC just doesn’t  look like or perform like a Souper star.

Susan we like to wean at 4 to 5 months but of course all you have said is correct - just before 5 months seems to be the time weanlings are ready to be separated from Mom and can handle it socially really well.  We feed lots of creep prior to separation so there is little if any weaning lag. But inevitablely, some will have a lull at weaning (especially the youngest in a group).  A good healthy eating, kind, sharing babysitter seems to be the bigger help in this.

None of us should worry about Zenyatta and her future if EVER there was a retired racehorse that will be handled with the utmost care its our Girl Z.

Soda your right, there are Lots of Less fashionable introductory stallions (decent bred good ones too)  to breed to at reasonable rates – Even proven producers. FL has several good Horses at 5K or less – PA & CA too.   But you have to own a decent broodmare and it takes a bunch to get them to weaning.  

Or you can go to the weanling auctions and pick up nice but scraggly youngsters even sired by bigger names for dirt cheap it seems.  Some may have had a bit of stress or just take a while to fill. Not looking “commercial” kills the price, take them home handle them and feed them up and see what happens.   Dreams can come true right?

Zen's Auntie 29 Jan 2011 11:04 AM

Hi, Ian,

I really expected that they would breed to a Lanes End stallion as that is where she is living.  I was expecting AP Indy, but was hoping for Candy Ride: I also am partial to Tapit -  how would you rank Tapit/Zenyatta as a match?  I am no expert but am very interested in reading your comments.

Another emerging sire is War Front:  he sure has a speedy colt in The Factor.  How would you rate him and Z?

Thanks for an interesting column.

skyfire 29 Jan 2011 3:34 PM


Thanks! Can promise you if I had my way,he wouldn't be allowed to post a single comment. He's counter productive,can't stand him.

Mike Relva 29 Jan 2011 7:15 PM

Money of any amount is not a problem for Jerry and Ann Moss. Dottie was the guiding force behind the decision and she is an expert on breeding. I think everyone is right that AP Indy's declining fertility was an issue. I think Bernadini is an inspired choice. The bottom line is you can make your best informed pick and no one knows how the foal will turn out. Bernadini is drop dead gorgeous. If nothing else, they will have the prettiest horse on the planet. I agree that they are going to keep all her foals. I know I would, and as I said, they certainly don't need the money.

Paula Higgins 30 Jan 2011 8:10 PM


Must a German Shepherd be trained in German?

Ian Tapp 31 Jan 2011 7:46 PM

smarty jones would be a good match as well

secretariat 09 Feb 2011 10:35 PM

next 3 matings for zenyatta should be

1 giant's causeway

2 galileo

3 medaglia doro

secretariat 18 Feb 2011 7:51 PM

It's truly too bad that Claiborne Farm's Boundary has been retired from stud duty. A mating to him would of produced the Rasmussen Factor of Princequillo 5S X 5D !! Also the War Admiral/Man O'War line would of been continued through both of their breeding lines. Boundary's sire line contains Crafty Admiral who is out of the War Admiral mare, Admiral's Lady. Zenyatta's damsire line contain's Hoist the Flag which is out of the War Admiral mare Wavy Navy. A foal out of these two would of been truly something to behold! I am happy with their choice however. Bernardini's conformation is beautiful as well as Zenyatta's! Their foal should be nicely conformed.

immortalzenyatta21 24 Sep 2011 1:32 PM

I'm curious about the nick rating for a very hypothetical breeding ---

Let's say Zenyatta's first foal is a filly...

Breed that filly to the Rachel/Curlin colt (hopefully after extremely successful racing careers).

How would that breeding rate? I am secretly hoping Z has a filly because I would love to see this cross happen...

Krystal 24 Jan 2012 1:24 PM

Hi Krystal,

Cool idea... the Rachel foal-Zenyatta foal hypo mating would be the cross of Smart Strike and sons and grandsons/Seattle Slew and sons and grandsons, which is currently a "D" rating based on 3 SW from 59 starters. With those two mares close in the pedigree, you'd hope such a foal would have a genetic advantage, but so far--statistically--this particular nick has a below average strike rate.

Ian Tapp 24 Jan 2012 5:29 PM

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