And the winner is … the hot Latin stud.
Ann and Jerry Moss revealed on Wednesday that Zenyatta’s first rendezvous in the breeding shed will be with Bernardini, the champion 3-year-old of 2006 and leading freshman sire of stakes winners last year.
A son of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy and Cara Rafaela (by Quiet American), Bernardini is owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid-al Maktoum and stands at Darley in Lexington, Ky., for a fee of $75,000.
Bernardini won six races in eight starts as a 3-year-old, the only year he raced. His three Grade I wins include the 2006 Preakness Stakes (which was marred by the injury of ill-fated Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro), the Travers and the Jockey Club Gold Cup over older horses. Second to Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Bernardini retired to stud with earnings of $3,060,480.
The first freshman stallion to produce juvenile Grade I winners on both dirt (A.Z. Warrior, who won the Grade I Frizette Stakes) and turf (Biondetti, winner of the Gran Criterium-G1 in Italy), Bernardini is also the leading freshman sire by number of graded/group winners and by number of stakes winners.
A.P. Indy, now 22, had been widely rumored as the pick for Zenyatta’s first mating. That speculation was fueled by the Mosses’ decision to retire the 2010 Horse of the Year to Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky., where A.P. Indy also resides.
Because horses sired by Bernardini have shown more precocity and speed than those sired by A.P. Indy, the mating with Zenyatta — a slow developer who made her racing debut as a late 3-year-old — should theoretically produce a more balanced foal.
Whether or not Zenyatta, whose only career loss in 20 races came in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, can duplicate her on-track brilliance in the breeding shed remains to be seen.
Genuine Risk, the 1980 Kentucky Derby winner, produced only two live foals. Winning Colors, the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner, fared somewhat better as a broodmare, giving birth to 10 foals, most of which were sold to foreign interests. Her two top earners, both fillies, raced exclusively in Japan.
Personal Ensign, on the other hand, was a prolific producer of stakes winner. The champion mare, whose epic win in the 1988 Breeders’ Cup Distaff over Winning Colors capped a perfect 13-for-13 lifetime record, produced 10 foals, including three graded stakes-placed runners and three Grade I winners: Miner’s Mark (1993 Jockey Club Gold Cup), My Flag (1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies) and Traditionally (2001 Oaklawn Handicap).
— Switching gears (slightly) from paternity to maternity news …
The first foal of dressage superstar Moorlands Totilas was born on Jan. 23 in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. The dark brown filly, named Moorlands Guinevere, is out of the Dutch Elite mare Sajouti, the 2010 Level 4 Champion in the Netherlands.
Ridden by Edward Gal, Totilas demolished previous world records in all three Grand Prix divisions at the 2009 European Championships, and won three gold medals at the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Ky.
— Olympic gold medalist David O’Connor (currently the coach for the Canadian eventing team) and three-time Olympian Jimmy Wofford have joined the short list of applicants to lead the U.S. eventing team in 2012, the year Capt. Mark Phillips will retire as coach.
Southern Pines resident Bobby Costello, a 2000 Olympian, and two-time team gold medalist Phillip Dutton, submitted a joint application to coach as a team earlier this month. The deadline for candidates to apply is Jan. 31.
O’Connor led Team Canada to silver medals at both the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG) and the 2007 Pan American Games. His wife, leading rider Karen O’Connor, has said she will retire from international competition should her husband land the position.
Wofford has extensive coaching experience, serving as the Canadian coach at the 2002 WEG, the 2003 Pan Ams (team bronze) and the 2004 Olympics. Riding his celebrated horse Kilkenny, Wofford helped the U.S. team win silver at both the 1968 and 1972 Olympics.
— The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) has approved new helmet rules for riders competing in both dressage and eventing.
Effective immediately, event riders are required to wear a ASTM/SEI-approved helmet at all times while mounted at nationally-rated eventing competitions in the U.S. Effective March 1, 2011, mounted dressage riders (except riders 18 and over) are required to wear protective headgear while competing only in FEI levels and tests at the Prix St. Georges level and above, including FEI Young Rider Tests, the USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Test, and the USEF Brentina Cup test.
Further information on the changes can be found at www.usef.org.
— Katie Hansen, riding for the St. Andrews College Hunter-Jumper team, won the Under Saddle for Open Hunters Division at the Triangle Farm Winter Show, which ran Jan. 21-23. Hansen also earned North Carolina Hunter-Jumper Association (NCHJA) Adult Equitation Champion status on both Saturday and Sunday.
Mia DiPillo, making her competitive debut for St. Andrews, earned second-place ribbons in three classes: Long Stirrup Equitation (two different classes) and Long Stirrup Hunter Over Fences. Tricia James was seventh in Hunter Derby while adding fourth-place finishes in two over-fences divisions.
James was also third in Under Saddle for Adult Hunters and fourth in NCHJA Equitation. Kayla McBath, in her second show as a member of the St. Andrews team, was third in Open Hunter Under Saddle and fifth in NCHJA Equitation.
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