02/23/2011 3:59PM

Zenyatta bred to Bernardini

Barbara D. Livingston
Zenyatta traveled by van to her mating with Bernardini, then was brought back to Lane's End.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Horse of the Year Zenyatta was bred to Bernardini on Wednesday at about 8 a.m., according to a notice posted on Zenyatta.com.

That site is maintained Dottie Ingordo Shirreffs, the racing manager for Zenyatta’s owners Ann and Jerry Moss and the wife of Zenyatta’s trainer John Shirreffs.

According to the website, staff at Lane’s End Farm, where Zenyatta boards, pulled the Street Cry mare’s mane and polished her hooves Tuesday in advance of her first mating with Darley stallion and former 3-year-old champion Bernardini. Veterinarians also checked her ovulation status, a standard procedure prior to breeding.

On Wednesday, 7-year-old Zenyatta shipped via Sallee van from Lane’s End to Darley Stud at Jonabell Farm, about a 10-minute ride, accompanied by Lane’s End manager Michael Cline and other farm staff. According to Ingordo’s account, the covering was “textbook” and “Zenyatta was unbelievably professional, especially for a maiden mare.”

ZENYATTA: Career highlights and race replays. Watch now »

Zenyatta was back on the van and returning to Lane’s End by 8:30 a.m., according to the website.

Zenyatta likely will undergo an ultrasound exam about 14 days post-breeding to determine whether she is pregnant. Jerry Moss said he was hopeful Zenyatta would conceive on Wednesday’s single cover and not need a return trip to the breeding shed.

“She seems to be in such excellent shape, and this thing went very well today, from what I’ve been told,” Moss said from his office in California. “She was very professional, they said, and if she has to go back I guess we’ll wait until the handlers tell us she should go back. But it sounded like they got it right today. Let’s hope so.”

The gestation period in horses is about 11 months, and most breeders hope to mate their mares to get foals born between January and March. Because registered Thoroughbred foals' official birth dates are Jan. 1, foals born earlier in the year are closer to their actual age when their official age changes. Many breeders and owners feel that later foals have a disadvantage in the sale ring and in their early racing careers, because they are competing against foals that are more physically mature.

Moss said he and his wife decided on Bernardini for the obvious reasons -- his championship race record, outstanding first-crop results as a sire, and regal breeding -- and because of what they had seen of Zenyatta’s half-sister by Bernardini. Named Eblouissante, she’s now a 2-year-old in training in South Carolina.

“He was a leading freshman sire, and he’s very fertile, from what we gather,” Moss said. “We were very anxious to have her be pregnant on the first shot, if that was possible.

“You want the first time to be sort of fun and easy with anything you do,” Moss added. “You want it to be a very good experience so the horse will feel very good about what’s happened and go on from there. That first time is a big deal.”

Three-generation pedigrees of Zenyatta and Bernardini: 

Zenyatta pedigree