06/02/2015 3:04PM

Broodmare of the Year Vertigineux, dam of Zenyatta, died of colic


Vertigineux, the 2008 Broodmare of the Year and dam of 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, died last year of colic, the Coolmore Stud Facebook page announced Tuesday.

According to the international breeding and racing operation’s post, the daughter of Kris S. was sent to Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Ky., but efforts to save the mare were unsuccessful. She was 20 years old.

Vertigineux was bred by the late Eric Kronfeld’s Maverick Productions Ltd. and offered at the 1996 Keeneland September yearling sale, but she finished under her reserve with a final bid of $120,000.

Kronfeld kept Vertigineux to race, and the filly missed the board in three starts as a 3-year-old at Belmont Park in her debut season.

She was moved to the barn of trainer Michael Dickinson for her 4-year-old campaign, and won her first two starts, both 1 1/4-mile turf races at Belmont. The filly then made two attempts at stakes company before being retired, finishing with two wins in seven starts for $60,480.

Vertigineux’s broodmare career started modestly, with a visit to Ashford Stud’s King of Kings failing to produce a foal in her first season. She then went to Shadwell Stud’s Aljabr the following year, producing the stakes-winning filly Where’s Bailey, who sold as a yearling for $4,000.

Business soon picked up for Vertigineux, however, after her first foal. She returned to Ashford Stud for her third trip to the breeding shed, meeting Thunder Gulch to produce Balance, who became a three-time Grade 1 winner and seven-figure earner.

In 2003, Vertigineux was sent to Darley’s Jonabell Farm for the mating with Street Cry that produced her fourth foal, Zenyatta. The future Hall of Famer went undefeated in her first 19 of 20 starts, defeated only in her career finale by a head in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, for earnings of $7,304,580.
In her four seasons of racing, Zenyatta was named champion older female three times from 2008-2010, and also earned Horse of the Year honors in her final campaign. She won the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic and the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, better known as the Distaff, among her 13 Grade 1 victories.
While Zenyatta became one of the sport’s all-time greats, she came along at a time when her dam’s résumé and reputation still had many holes to fill, selling to Jerry and Ann Moss at the 2005 Keeneland September sale for $60,000. The Mosses now board the champion mare at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky., where she was recently reported in foal to War Front for her fourth pregnancy.

Zenyatta’s 2008 campaign, which included seven graded stakes wins and her first Eclipse Award, combined with the high-level success of Balance from 2005 to 2007, earned Vertigineux Kentucky’s 2008 Broodmare of the Year honors, as selected by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Kentucky Owners and Breeders Association.

After such humble beginnings, Vertigineux’s foals quickly became coveted at auction following the success of Balance, and especially after Zenyatta hit the scene.

Treasure Trail, a Pulpit filly and the dam’s first foal after Zenyatta, brought $550,000 as a yearling, followed the next year by the Giant’s Causeway colt Souper Spectacular, who sold to Live Oak Plantation for $1.15 million.

Kronfeld sold Vertigineux to the Coolmore partnership in late 2008 with the stipulation that he would keep the 2009 foal by Bernardini, who became Eblouissante.

Kronfeld campaigned the filly until his death in 2013. Eblouissante had won two of her first three starts at the time, and was the centerpiece of Kronfeld’s dispersal at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, where she sold to St. George Farm for $2.1 million.

Vertigineux produced three foals for Coolmore. The first two were unraced fillies by Henrythenavigator, Pressurizing and Harley Rose, the latter of which sold as a weanling to Adena Springs for $1.5 million at the 2011 Keeneland November sale.

Her final foal was a full brother to Zenyatta, born in 2013. The 2-year-old is unnamed and unraced. Coolmore’s Facebook page reports that Vertigineux was covered by leading commercial sire Tapit for 2014, but she failed to get in foal.

In total, Vertigineux had nine foals, with five winners from six foals to race. Two of her foals were graded stakes winners and one won in non-graded stakes company.

With several daughters among her produce, Vertigineux figures to have a presence in female families for the foreseeable future.

The most watched among them has been Zenyatta, whose first foal, the Bernardini colt Cozmic One, was followed closely by fans from birth. His debut start in April at Santa Anita was a highly anticipated event, but the colt never fired and finished last. He and half-brother Ziconic, by Tapit, are in training at Belmont Park.

Balance grabbed headlines with her first foal, the A.P. Indy colt Mr. Besilu, who brought $4.2 million at the 2010 Keeneland September sale. It was the highest price paid for a yearling at North American auction since 2006 and a record auction price for a son or daughter of A.P. Indy. Mr. Besilu went winless in seven starts and entered stud in Texas in 2015.

Elsewhere in the mare’s produce record, Where’s Bailey has produced Grade 3-placed She’s Not Here among her three foals to race. Treasure Island is the dam of the War Front colt Long Island Sound, who sold for $800,000 as a weanling at the 2013 Keeneland November sale.

Vertigineux is out of the winning Forli mare For the Flag, whose 10 winners from 12 foals to race include stakes winners Restrained, Blash, and National Service. She is from the family of Kentucky Oaks winner Sweet Alliance, Canadian champion Sweetest Thing, and Grade 2 winners Dancing Champ and War Kill.

Janice Kehler Hollister More than 1 year ago
Thank you Joe Nevills of The Daily Racing Form for honoring Vertigineux, a Broodmare of the Year and Reine-de-Course mare. Vertigineux deserved such high praise. Love Ya, "V" and always will.
casadaly More than 1 year ago
A wonderful tribute to a remarkable mare--Thank you!!
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
A wonderful tribute and a fitting obituary for a "Queen of the Turf" mare. Thank you so much for this in-depth coverage of this wonderful mare. One other honor you omitted is, Vertigineux was named a "Reine-de-Course" mare (the "Chef-de-Race" for mares) by Ellen Parker. The Reines designation appears in Pedigree Query and some other pedigree databases with an "*" after the mare's name, denoting her status. With the rise of the social media, breeding farms have been remiss in not noting that the public awareness for mares is important to many. Thus, the delay in issuing a press release for over a year after her death has been the source a lot of discussion in the social media. This oversight has been taken to mean the breeding farms don't care for the mares as much as the stallions. I'm sure this is not the case, but the treatment of the death of Vertigineux in such a cavalier fashion reflected badly nevertheless on one of the premier breeding and racing operations in the world. Long hidden away and literally laboring in obscurity, broodmares are the unsung heroes in the breeding shed, with the stallions usually getting all the attention. Recent filly stars that have retired to their second careers as broodmares are closely followed by thousands on Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, and we are now seeing some of the offspring of our filly stars on the track now making their racing debuts. Hopefully, the shabby way this was handled by Coolmore will cause a change in the way news and information about broodmares is handled in he future by other farms. These policies by the farms may have had some logical basis for being in existence, however, in the glare of today's public awareness through social media, they would do well to re-visit how they deal with news and events surrounding their broodmares.
MyBig Red More than 1 year ago
Very Well said, Ann. Many of us Women, Adore the Fillies & Mares = Girl Power !!
MyBig Red More than 1 year ago
PLEASE, someone at Belmont Park, make sure she has an eulogy on Saturday, since Belmont is where she began her racing career. That would be fitting for "America's Queen Mum". Rest in Peace, Beautiful Girl.
Sue Werner More than 1 year ago
Even if this tribute is written a year after her passing, it serves as a fitting tribute to a wonderful horse. She was classy and intelligent, both features which are embodied in the great Zenyatta.
Abigail Anderson More than 1 year ago
Thank you so much for this fabulous article on Vertigineux. She deserves to be "laid to rest" with full honours and you've done that with flying colours!
Gj Ubar More than 1 year ago
Thank you for that in-depth article. She deserves it.