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NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.

Sam Houston Race Park and Gallery Furniture continue to step up efforts to bring the undefeated, Breeders’ Cup Classic winning mare Zenyatta and powerhouse filly Rachel Alexandra together in a $1.5 million race to take place Saturday, January 30, 2010.
The race would be a 1 1/8 mile contest on the dirt track, and would feature a full field of elite Thoroughbreds from across the nation and around the world.
“Of course the Breeders’ Cup win was one of historic proportions for Zenyatta, her owners and trainers. We are more dedicated than ever to bringing her and Rachel Alexandra to Houston for an epic showdown of the two greatest racehorses in the world,” stated Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, the man behind Gallery Furniture.
“We are fully prepared to host this race as part of our John B. Connally Turf Festival, in the event that both parties are interested in participating. This is our largest race day of the year, and we would be proud to welcome not only Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra, but top horses from around the world, to race on our nationally recognized surface,” said Andrea Young, President and Chief Operating Officer of Sam Houston Race Park. “We would absolutely love to have this historic race take place at The Park.”

To many casual, and not-so-casual, followers of horse racing, owning a horse good enough to succeed in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships seems like a lofty status reserved only for wealthy captains of industry or potentates of oil-rich nations. This was hardly the case at the recently concluded Breeders’ Cup.
Just ask Nancy and Mike Mazzoni. Only six years ago, they attended a Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) program for prospective owners called “The Greatest Game”. (This TOBA new owners program is now called “The Racing Game”.) They liked what they heard and got into breeding on a small scale. Earlier this year, though, they brought a small filly to a two-year-old sale and were disappointed when their horse failed to bring her modest $19,000 reserve, so they held onto her. Ten months later, the Mazzonis found themselves standing in the Santa Anita winner’s circle with that same small filly–She Be Wild, winner of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and likely Eclipse Award Champion as North America’s top Two-Year-Old Filly.
“Because we were unable to sell the foal at the sale, we kept her,” said Nancy. “And here we are!”
So anyone with $19,000 to spend could have purchased the horse that, less than a year later, would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. But that was by no means the only Breeders’ Cup success story that originated from relatively humble beginnings.
Furthest Land, winner of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, was claimed in October 2008 by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey for $35,000.
Tapitsfly, winner of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, was by Tapit, who stood for just $12,500 at the time of Tapitsfly’s mating.
Informed Decision, winner of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, was by a sire who commanded a stud fee of just $6,000.
Blind Luck, third behind She Be Wild in the Juvenile Fillies, sold for just $11,000 as a yearling.
Dancing in Silks, upset victor in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint, cost just $21,400 as a yearling.
Gio Ponti, a gallant second behind Zenyatta in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and the likely 2009 Turf Champion after winning four Grade I grass races earlier this year, did not attract her owners’ minimum bid of $45,000 when they offered him for purchase as a two-year-old.
And even Zenyatta, herself (now 14-for-14 and the winner of $5.4 million), was sold as a yearling for the now-miniscule-looking sum of $60,000.
One can pull another dozen or so such examples just from this year’s Breeders’ Cup alone. It all goes to show that even at the highest levels of the Sport of Kings, success does not require a king’s ransom.