05/15/2013 5:56PM

Eric Kronfeld, Zenyatta's breeder, dies at 71

Shigeki Kikkawa
Eric Kronfeld, breeder of Horse of the Year Zenyatta, died on May 15 at age 71.

Eric Kronfeld, best known for breeding 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, died May 15 following a battle with cancer. He was 71.

Kronfeld, owner of a New York-based investment company, became involved with the racing industry in 1975 with the purchase of two horses in England. Among his initial successes was Mrs. Penny, a $40,000 yearling purchase who was named champion 2-year-old filly in England in 1979. The following year, she took the 3-year-old filly title after winning the French Oaks.

“I thought, 'This is an easy game,' and I've spent the last quarter of a century trying to play catch-up,” Kronfeld was quoted.

Kronfeld, under his Maverick Productions banner, bred and raced Zenyatta’s dam, the winning Kris S mare Vertigineux, after privately purchasing and campaigning second dam For the Flag. Vertigineux’s first three foals all went on to become stakes winners. Where’s Bailey, who Kronfeld sold for just $4,000 at the 2003 Keeneland September yearling sale, become a stakes winner in Oklahoma. The mare’s second foal, the A.P. Indy filly Balance, sold for $260,000 at the same sale the following year and became a multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire.

After being sent to Darley stallion Street Cry in his first year at stud, Vertigineux produced Zenyatta, who was purchased for $60,000 by Jerry and Ann Moss at the 2005 Keeneland September sale. Jerry Moss and Kronfeld became acquaintances when both were involved in the music industry in the 1970s, when Kronfeld was with PolyGram Records and Moss with his A&M Records.

Zenyatta, named champion older female in three consecutive seasons in addition to her Horse of the Year title, won 19 of her 20 career starts, including the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic and the 2008 Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic. She won 13 total Grade 1 events, and also finished second by a head to Blame in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic in her career finale. She retired with a bankroll of $7,304,580, making her the all-time earnings leader among North American females.

Currently representing the family on the track is Eblouissante, Vertigineux’s sixth foal and the last owned by Kronfeld. He privately sold the mare, who he boarded at Don Robinson’s Winter Quarter Farm, to Coolmore Stud in the fall of 2008.

“When I thought the world of finance was coming to the end, in 2008, I talked it over with Donnie Robinson,” Kronfeld told Daily Racing Form in 2011. “I said, ‘I think we have to sell her. There is never going to be the eight-digit prices for broodmares.’ The odds on her throwing one more [Zenyatta] are astronomical. I said I wanted to keep the in-utero foal. John Magnier [of Coolmore] allowed me to do that. I asked for a number, and there was no negotiation.”

Eblouissante, a 4-year-old Bernardini filly, has now won both of her starts and is currently in training with John Shirreffs in New York.

“If you get to see Eblouissante, your breath will be taken away,” Kronfeld said in 2011, when the filly was an unraced juvenile. “Do I expect her to be anywhere close to Zenyatta? Absolutely not. If she were ever good enough to win a stakes, that’s all a breeder can hope for.”

Other top runners campaigned by Kronfeld include Nereid, a $190,000 yearling purchase. The daughter of Rock Hard Ten finished in a dead heat for the win in the Grade 1 American Oaks in 2011, and placed in three other Grade 1 events. Kronfeld sold her for $1.3 million at this year’s Keeneland January horses of all ages sale. It was the highest price paid for a broodmare or broodmare prospect at the sale.

Funeral arrangements for Kronfeld are pending.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sire of Balance is Thunder Gulch. Balance does have an A.P. Indy colt named Mr. Besilu, however.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
It still pisses me off that Blame beat that Immortal Mare...But I want to thank Mr. Kronfeld for giving her to us as she took a ton of Horse fans/gamblers on one hell of a ride...Bless his soul...
Judy Maass Gadwood More than 1 year ago
My sincere condolences to Mrs. Kronfeld and family. I was at Eblouissante's first race. When she won we broke into tears of joy! Fans of Zenyatta's (Barn 55) turned out to support not only Zenny's half sister, but to show our love and devotion for John Shirreffs. The fact Mr. Kornfeld allowed some of us into the winner's circle was the icing on the cake. He could see our love for Ms. Ebby. It was a moment I will cherish always. We also showed up for Ebby's 2nd race :-) Thank you Mr. Kronfeld for giving us the Queen of Racing, and her beautiful sister. Rest in peace.
August Sams More than 1 year ago
"E" will be sold with his estate and put up for auction; maybe you and the Dumplings can buy her; price is over $10 million. Such a privileged person you are, a text message, how impressive and self-fish and self-centered you are.
Judy Maass Gadwood More than 1 year ago
LOL I'm flattered you'd acknowledge me!!! :-) I guess you haven't been so honored - I bet I know you, and it doesn't surprise me in the least that you'd be soooo jealous ;-) Why don't you post under YOUR name? Figures LOL
Heidi Kruckenberg More than 1 year ago
August Sams... Why are you so bitter? Sounds like "Sign" to me! Get a life and be respectful of Mr. Kronfeld, his family and legacy!
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
Condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Kronfeld. He made a difference in the world of horseracing and in the music business. I was really looking forward to seeing him cheer Ebby on in his own backyard. RIP, Mr. K.
August Sams More than 1 year ago
Hope you recovered from your heart surgery; your posts and information along with your web site and your friend Keta are a sham. Please be honest and stop the face book junk and socializing, have some substance will you !!!!
Heidi Kruckenberg More than 1 year ago
why are you so bitter, "Sign?" Because you were kicked off of the site. Fool!
Judy Maass Gadwood More than 1 year ago
Your postings only confirm WHY I unfriended you Grace LOL :-)
Delrene Sims More than 1 year ago
So saddened by the news of Mr. Kronfeld's passing. Too young. I hope Ebby will be safe.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Prayers for the family and thanks to Mr. Kronfeld for what he's brought to Racing. I hope his estate is clearly mapped out and that no ugly money wars break out among the heirs.
Pete Morris More than 1 year ago
Elbouissante, considering the owners health, should have been with a trainer who likes to run horses. Sheriffs is a class act and good trainer, but wish this filly should have been given to someone else.
scott More than 1 year ago
get a clue
Suzanne Sugarbaker More than 1 year ago
I don't think so.
Eddie Lazaro More than 1 year ago
John is a Great Trainer who put the Horse Health First and Interest about racing second. Not like other trainers who will run down their horses every week to get some purse money and have them on claiming if they will not perform well. I say RIP MR. K, Elbouissante is in good hands. To horse racing industry and his family, my deepest sympathies... A great lost, We will all miss him
TriniLoo More than 1 year ago
Mr. Morris, You can say the same thing about Orb. There are the John Sheriff's and Shug's of the world, and then there are the owners who tell Pletcher they want to run their horse in the Derby, even though the horse should be no where near Kentucky. Horses are like humans, they will tell you when they are ready to run. Problem is, like most humans, we are not very good listeners.
Lisa More than 1 year ago
And she would have been ruined!!!!
LeslieH0101 More than 1 year ago
I am sorry Eblouissante didn't win a stakes for him -if the estate sells her, she must be worth $10 mill
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Richard Holmes More than 1 year ago
If she was retired tomorrow, she'd be worth way more than that. As a broodmare prospect alone, she would sell for at least $3 million. If she is sound right now I don't think they would have any problem getting $4 million for her, and maybe quite a bit more than that.
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Lisa More than 1 year ago
You know nothing about breeding. Look at all of the "greats" who produced NOTHING!!
August Sams More than 1 year ago
She is a great broodmare prospect from a wonderful line, JS just needs to get her to win a stakes race, that is why he is taking his time and picking and placing her so she can; she is a router with out any speed, but gorgeous.
August Sams More than 1 year ago
At least, not sure his family is interested in racing so she may be at auction soon !!!