10/03/2002 11:00PM

Kazzia may be first German-bred BC winner


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Leading at every quarter of the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park last Saturday, Kazzia served notice to all her competition for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. A 3-year-old daughter of the little-known stallion Zinaad, Kazzia brought her tenacity into play from the start and made the 10 furlongs of the Flower Bowl a searching test of stamina over the soft course.

If Kazzia were to win the Filly and Mare Turf at Arlington, she would become the first German-bred horse to win in a Breeders' Cup race, but the classy filly is accustomed to making headlines and setting milestones. Only three German-bred horses have raced in the Breeders' Cup, and the best effort was that of Borgia, who ran second in the Turf against colts in 1997.

Earlier this year, Kazzia became the first German-bred to win an English classic. Trained over the winter in Dubai as part of the Godolphin racing stable, Kazzia had a rough trip to England from Dubai, and her handlers at Godolphin were reluctant to start her in her major early objective, the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Sheikh Mohammed, however, had seen Kazzia race, had bought her, and wanted her to have a chance in the classic. Victory in the 1000 Guineas justified his confidence in Kazzia, and she won the race in similar style to her race in the Flower Bowl. Kazzia was prominent from the start of the English mile classic for fillies, and when she accelerated for home about three furlongs out, her rivals couldn't keep up.

Kazzia followed that effort over good ground with a smooth victory in the Oaks at Epsom on a more testing course with softer ground. After her second classic success, Kazzia was clearly the leading middle-distance filly in England, and her obvious stamina was only reinforced when she was allowed to press the pace or able to race on soft turf. With the two filly classics to her credit, Kazzia needed only the final element of the fillies' Triple Crown, the St. Leger at Doncaster, to become the first filly since Oh So Sharp to win the coveted series. Unfortunately, an abscess in a foot prevented her from taking a chance at a distance (1 3/4 miles) and over a course that seemed ideal for her strong galloping style of racing.

Kazzia has been beaten only once - in the Yorkshire Oaks. She first came to public notice last season at 2. The filly had traveled from Germany to Italy for the Group 3 Premio Dormello, and Sheikh Mohammed, who was in Italy to watch Godolphin's good older horse Slickly race, discovered the filly. Sheikh Mohammed was quoted in the Racing Post this summer saying, "We owe a big debt to Slickly, because it was when he won the Gran Premio del Jockey Club in Rome last year that we first saw this filly. She won a race on the same card that day, and I was really impressed with the way she did it. I liked her a lot, and we bought her after the race. I did not know anything about her before that day."

Bred in Germany by Frau Grunewald, Kazzia is one of nine foals from her sire's 1999 crop. Even German breeders, who have traditionally valued stamina and soundness over speed, have not patronized Zinaad with enthusiasm. His pedigree, however, is excellent. A son of Derby winner Shirley Heights and Oaks winner Time Charter, Zinaad brought 300,000 guineas as a yearling.

A useful horse on the racetrack, Zinaad showed his best form at 12 furlongs when he won the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes and stayed two miles in good company. Not the star that his parents were, Zinaad was sold to Germany for stud, and Kazzia is his first offspring of note, although he has five crops of racing age.

None of the negatives about the commercial aspects of the pedigree put off Sheikh Mohammed in purchasing this talented daughter of a very well-bred sire and a good producing dam. Nor did he miss the fact that Kazzia is very stoutly bred and that she was already showing group quality as a 2-year-old.

Kazzia is out of Khoruna, the only mare owned by Grunewald, and Khoruna has become a producer out of all recognition to her race record of two small victories. A winner over seven furlongs at 2 and over 11 furlongs at 4, Khoruna is by the German Derby winner Lagunas, a high-class son of Ile de Bourbon. Kazzia is only the third foal from her dam, and in addition to Kazzia, Khoruna also has produced the listed stakes winner Kimbajar.