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Eclipse Award winner Zagora: Champion turf female enhances profile of late sire
By Joe Nevills
Heading into autumn 2012, it appeared that the final chapters on Green Tune’s legacy as a sire were close to completion, as far as the accomplishments of his leading runners are concerned. The late son of Green Dancer, a classic winner in France and one of that country’s leading sires, still had numerous horses racing across Europe, but no standouts. His best performer in training was a competitive 5-year-old mare who had annexed two Group 3 races in France before shipping to the U.S. and winning the Grade 1 Diana Stakes in 2011.
That mare, Martin Schwartz’s Zagora, captured three Grade 3 stakes and the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga in 2012 but failed to reach the winner’s circle in a trio of Grade 1s and appeared to have settled in at a level just below top class. By the end of the year, however, Zagora had elevated her game to become Green Tune’s first Breeders’ Cup winner, scoring decisively in the Filly and Mare Turf and earning the Eclipse Award as champion turf female.
Zagora is from the fifth-to-last crop of Green Tune, who was euthanized at age 20 after fracturing his right hind leg in January 2011. He finished 2010 as France’s second-leading sire, led by Fuisse’s win in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp and Zagora’s group wins that year. Green Tune stood his entire stud career at Haras d’Etreham in Normandy, France.
Green Tune sired 14 graded or group stakes winners from 659 foals of racing age during his stallion career. In addition to Zagora and Fuisse, his leading runners include Italian Group 1 winner and French Group 2 winner Lune d’Or, French Group 2 winners Marend and Delfos, and French Group 3 winners Gold Sound and Gewnsweb. Gold Sound also won a turf stakes at Sam Houston Race Park in the U.S.
Green Tune was bred in Kentucky by the Wertheimer family, who also campaigned the horse during his racing career. Trained by Criquette Head-Maarek, Green Tune won five of 13 starts over three seasons of racing for earnings of $472,166, highlighted by wins in the Group 1 French Two Thousand Guineas in 1994 and the Prix d’Ispahan in 1995.
While Green Tune specialized at the 1,600-meter distance (approximately one mile) during his racing days, his foals have shown an ability to run on, with an average winning distance of 10.99 furlongs, or a shade under 1 3/8 miles. The average racing distance of his foals is 11.08 furlongs.
In that sense, Zagora’s average winning distance of 8.85 furlongs, or just under 1 1/8 miles, makes her a relatively short horse compared to her fellow Green Tune progeny, though that number would put her well ahead of the curve in North American racing.
Zagora is the third foal out of unraced Mtoto mare Zaneton, who has produced four winners from five to race, including French stakes-placed winner Zanet.
Zaneton was bred back to Green Tune in 2009, prior to Zagora’s 2-year-old season, and she produced Zanakoff, who could not recreate his older sister’s success, winning one race in 14 tries racing in France. In 2012, Zaneton produced a Galileo filly.
Zagora’s second dam, the stakes-placed winning Zafonic mare Party Zane, is a half-sister to Group 2 winner and sire Titus Livius and German One Thousand Guineas winner Briseida. Delving deeper, Zagora’s fifth dam is stakes winner Mia Pola, by Relko, a half-sister to French champion and leading sire Grey Dawn II. French Derby winners and sires Dream Well and Sulamani are also members of this extended family.
In the days following her Breeders’ Cup win, Zagora became sixth-highest price through the ring at the elite 2012 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale, selling to French-based Mandore International Agency for $2.5-million. Prior to that transaction, foals out of Zaneton had performed above average at public auction in Europe, with six yearlings sent through the ring for an average price of $125,285. Zagora is the first to sell as a broodmare prospect.
To read about Zagora's Eclipse Award-winning season, click here.
Zagora went out on top, a great winner. The stuff of great novels. She was a beauty to watch race. And, like other Eclipse Award winners this year, she was an overachiever. Her Breeders' Cup win was a thing of beauty. She was just gorgeous streaking home to the wire. Zagora gave us fabulous racing here in the States in 2012. I hope she becomes a wonderful mother to some truly great champion progeny, just like her. I'm really looking forward to seeing them race in say, four years' time!