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First foals out of Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta preparing for race careers
Among the wobbly-legged foals taking their first steps early in 2012, two were greeted with royal-baby levels of anticipation by the racing world. Those are the first foals, both colts, of Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta – Horse of the Year honorees in 2009 and 2010 and among the most popular runners of the modern era.
First to arrive, on Jan. 22 at Stonestreet Farm in Lexington, Ky., was Jess’s Dream, the son of two-time Horse of the Year and leading North American money winner Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. Cozmic One, by champion Bernardini and out of once-beaten Zenyatta, followed March 8 at Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky.
Two years later, both colts are immersed in their early lessons at training centers in the Ocala, Fla. area, preparing for their own racing careers for the connections who campaigned their famed dams. Jess’s Dream is owned by the Stonestreet Stables of Barbara Banke, the widow of Jess Jackson, who privately purchased Rachel Alexandra midway through her championship season. Cozmic One will run in the colors of Jerry and Ann Moss, who bought his dam as a yearling.
‘A ton of class’
Jess’s Dream arrived at the Stonestreet Training Center in Summerfield, Fla., last October, and there is no rush to get the youngster to his first start.
The colt recently resumed training after getting a break for 45 days of turnout at the former Vinery facility, giving him additional time to grow and mature. Jess’s Dream is now back to galloping 1 1/4 miles each morning, with turnout time in the afternoons.
“A big, pretty horse with a ton of class who is mentally very forward” is how Ian Brennan, who leads conditioning at the training center, described the colt. “He is a great mover with a beautiful two-turn stride that covers a lot of ground. The Curlins seem to do their best a bit later, and he appears to fit that mold. As far as his first start, we’ll let him tell us when he’s ready.”
Curlin, a two-time Horse of the Year for Jackson, did not start as a 2-year-old and has yet to produce a juvenile stakes winner. However, Palace Malice emerged from his first crop to find classic-distance success, winning the 2013 Belmont Stakes. The stallion is represented this year by Kentucky Derby contender Ride On Curlin.
Jess’s Dream most likely will not leave the training center until June, and no decision has been made on a trainer. Although Stonestreet and its partners employ a handful of trainers, Todd Pletcher handles many of the outfit’s current stars, including Grade 1 winner Dreaming of Julia, Grade 2 winner Teen Pauline, and well-regarded 3-year-old Surfing U S A. Steve Asmussen, whose stable is under investigation following allegations by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, trained Rachel Alexandra following her purchase by Jackson and sent out the champion’s full sister, Samantha Nicole, to finish second in her debut last month.
Rachel Alexandra and Samantha Nicole are the only starters out of their dam, the stakes-winning Roar mare Lotta Kim. All three were bred by Dolphus Morrison, who campaigned Rachel Alexandra under the care of Hal Wiggins for the first year of her career. Jackson privately purchased Rachel Alexandra after her romp in the Kentucky Oaks, and the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro went on to secure championship honors with Grade 1 wins against males in the Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational, and Woodward Stakes.
Rachel Alexandra, who resides at Stonestreet, delivered a Bernardini filly Feb. 12, 2013. A day later, the mare underwent emergency abdominal surgery for foaling complications and spent more than a month at nearby Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital before returning home. She has not been bred the last two seasons.
‘He isn’t afraid of anything’
The Street Cry–Vertigineux yearling who would eventually be named Zenyatta arrived at Mayberry Farm in Ocala for her early lessons after the Mosses purchased her for a bargain $60,000 at the 2005 Keeneland September yearling sale. A little less a decade later – with a Horse of the Year title, three divisional championships, and two Breeders’ Cup victories to Zenyatta’s credit – the mare’s first foal, Cozmic One, has made the facility his temporary home.
Kyle Acebo“I’ve never had one as confident as he is,” Jeanne Mayberry said of Cozmic One, who arrived last September. “He’s sure of himself. Sometimes babies spook at things, but he isn’t afraid of anything. I’ve never had a horse quite like that ... He’s special, and he knows it.”
Mayberry’s focus is on letting Cozmic One be a horse and become comfortable with his early lessons in the face of intense public interest. The colt is turned out daily, before and after his exercise, and gallops confidently in company. He has not turned in an official breeze yet, but is progressing nicely.
“He’s into a routine and does very well,” Mayberry said. “We’re putting the miles in him, and he’s training forwardly.”
Cozmic One also got his first set of front shoes about a month ago, a step Mayberry said she does not take until a young horse is stepping up in training with an eye toward the racetrack. When the colt does leave Ocala, he will be sent to trainer John Shirreffs, who handled his dam. Shirreffs also trains Zenyatta’s winning half-sister, Eblouissante, who is by Bernardini, the sire of Cozmic One.
Cozmic One’s family is notoriously late blooming, with Zenyatta making her first start late in her 3-year-old season. While Mayberry said that physically, Cozmic One could start a bit earlier than his dam, she noted similarities between the two and praised Shirreffs’s patient handling of the family.
“He’s got a big, big stride on him – like her,” Mayberry said. “He’s not as big as her. He’s got beautiful bone. He’s a nice-boned horse. There’s no reason he couldn’t be a little earlier. He’s a little more forward, but he’s a boy, too. [Shirreffs is] perfect for that family. He gave [Zenyatta] the opportunity to be what she was.”
Zenyatta, who is boarded at Lane’s End, produced her second foal, a Tapit colt, April 1, 2013. The mare, who is also a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Balance and stakes winner Where’s Bailey, is in foal to War Front.