05/17/2002 12:00AM

Zenda's French Guineas win elevates sire Zamindar


Doug Henderson's Marablue Farm is a 400-acre Thoroughbred stallion station, nursery, and training center in the northeast quadrant of the Ocala area. In a matter of days, Marablue Farm will mark its 28th year of operation. As for birthday presents, Marablue Farm owner and general manager Doug Henderson already got a big one when the Juddmonte Farm's Prince Khalid Abdullah won last Sunday's Group 1, French 1000 Guineas with Zenda, a daughter of the Juddmonte stallion Zamindar, who was repatriated from England to stand at Marablue Farm.

"Zenda's win was worth another dozen bookings," said Henderson.

"I guess we'll have 80 or 90 mares bred to Zamindar by the time the season ends," he added.

Zamindar (1994) is a well-balanced bay stallion who is visually deceptive in that he does not appear to be as tall as his near 17-hand measurement. He is by Gone West, out of Zaizafon, by The Minstrel - making him a younger full-brother to Zafonic, the 1996 European Horse of the Year. While not in the same league as Zafonic, Zamindar was, nevertheless, a Group 3 stakes winner and Group 1 stakes-placed in France. After his 3 year-old campaign, Zamindar went into the stud in England.

"He was doing good in England," Henderson said. "His first crop had 60-something. But midway through his second season he was bred to a 'dirty' mare and contracted an equine venereal disease.

"So, he only has around 30 from his second crop racing in Europe this year and only one registered yearling for next year. They sent him back to the United States to cure his problem, and he was cured, but you couldn't return him to Europe and he was, I would have to think, commercially kaput."

Zamindar must rely on his Florida-breds for future success, as he just doesn't have the numbers to back him in Europe.

Henderson has four active stallions at Marablue Farm - Zamindar, Bon Point, Tactical Advantage, and Songandaprayer, plus the retired 30-year-old Proud Birdie.

"I bought Bon Point [1990 b.h. Soviet Star-Twixt, by Kings Lake] from Juddmonte as a speculation and a business ice-breaker," Henderson said. "The first crop of Bon Point [GB] races this year and I will race a number of them, some in the states and a few in Canada.

"Florida breeders did not line up to breed to him, so he is currently in Argentina. The combination of turf pedigree and turf middle distances does not fit into the Florida program of breeding for the 2 year-old sales market. But, he opened the commercial door to Prince Abdullah and the Juddmonte connection. That's how Zamindar got to Florida. Hopefully, Zamindar will stay here and not move up to Juddmonte Farm in Lexington. But that's their call as they still own the horse."

Tactical Advantage is a Marablue Farm syndicated stallion. A son of Forty Niner, he is ranked among the state's leading sires, but in what can only be described as a puzzling scenario, he is not getting the bookings.

"I am not really sure why the bloom is off the rose," Henderson said. "His numbers are good, and they sell well as 2 year-olds in training. Lots of stallions go through their commercial ups and downs."

There is, however, no curbing of Henderson's enthusiasm when it comes to the 4-year-old, Grade 1 stakes winner Songandaprayer (b.h. Unbridled Song-Alizea, by Premiership).

"He is perfect for Florida," Henderson said. "His grandsire and great grandsire were Florida-bred champions. We could book him to a hundred mares or more but this is his first season and we won't go that high."

Marablue Farm borders on U.S. Highway 441. On an acre of prominent ground, looking for all intents and purposes like candles on a cake, are a dozen flags with old glory the centerpiece.

"The flags represent the great racing countries," Henderson said, "and I am proud to be a part of a great business."