Updated on 03/12/2012 1:54PM

Zenyatta foals 130-pound colt

Photo via @TeamZenyatta
Zenyatta foaled a 130-pound Bernardini colt on Thursday night at Lane's End farm.

LEXINGTON, Ky. –  Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year, has given birth to her first foal, a Bernardini colt, in one of the most anticipated equine births in recent memory.

The 8-year-old Zenyatta foaled a 130-pound colt at about 10:10 p.m. Thursday at Lane's End farm in Versailles, Ky. He is a dark bay with a white star and “polka dots on his feet,” just like Zenyatta, according to Zenyatta.com.

Dam and foal "are healthy and doing fine," according to a statement that her connections and Lane’s End issued via the National Thoroughbred Racing Association on Friday.

"Zenyatta is an amazing mother," her owners Ann and Jerry Moss said in the statement. "She is so proud of her foal, and so are we. He is already showing his mother’s spirit, and the way Zenyatta encourages and nurtures her precious baby is simply beautiful."

The Mosses had arrived at Lane’s End on March 5 to attend the birth. The farm had presented the couple with special personalized navy-blue coveralls for the occasion, according to Zenyatta.com.

In keeping with their usual habit, the Mosses had not fetal-sexed the foal during Zenyatta’s pregnancy.

According to Zenyatta.com, the Street Cry mare first began to show signs of pre-foaling restlessness while the Mosses were away from her Lane’s End foaling barn for dinner. They received a call from the farm’s manager, Mike Cline, who alerted them that she might foal later that evening. Jerry Moss then called Zenyatta’s trainer, John Shirreffs, and the trainer’s wife Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs. Zenyatta’s water broke shortly afterwards, according to Ingordo-Shirreffs.

The Bernardini colt was one of six foals born at Lane’s End on Thursday night, which had a full moon. Breeders note that mares often foal during a full moon.

With the birth of Zenyatta's first foal, it's a good time to look back on some of her DRF cover appearances. This cover appeared in the Daily Racing Form edition of March 11, 2012.

Word of the birth apparently first came from Bill Farish’s daughter Daisy, who tweeted at 11:07 p.m. from Wellington, Fla., “ZENYATTA JUST HAD HER BABY! Boy!” Within the hour, a post confirming the news went up at Zenyatta.com on a blog written by Ingordo-Shirreffs, who also is the Mosses’ racing manager. The site reportedly crashed as Zenyatta fans from around the world jostled virtually to see the colt’s first pictures. A brief video of the mare licking her newborn also appeared on YouTube Thursday night but was made private shortly thereafter, closing off access to viewers not already approved to view it. But it didn’t take fans long to track down another version of it, apparently downloaded before the video became private, posted on YouTube by user RuffianQueenofRacing.

Social media has played a significant role in building and maintaining Zenyatta’s high profile and popularity since her retirement. In the days leading up to the foal’s birth, her Facebook page’s fans grew past 100,000, and, by Friday afternoon, Ingordo’s blog had received 796 comments from followers as online conversation continued about the foal.

“So glad you had a boy; the hopes of a Triple Crown winner could be real,” wrote one poster.

“Send up the FIREWORKS and DECLARE A NATIONAL HOLIDAY AND CELEBRATION,” typed another. “This little colt was just born to Thoroughbred royalty. What a wonderful day it is. I am so elated right now. Love to the entire ZENYATTA NATION.”

These quickly were followed by many others contributing poems, congratulatory messages, and name suggestions.

Zenyatta’s regular pilot, jockey Mike Smith, was in California when the mare foaled but found out via a friend, David Weston, who also sent him a photo of the colt.

“I’ve had a smile on my face since I found out last night. As long as they’re both healthy, that’s all I want,” Smith said Friday after breezing some horses for Shirreffs. The atmosphere in Hollywood Park’s Barn 55, he said, was exuberant.

“We were all playing with Mario [Espinoza, Zenyatta’s former groom], wanting to know where all the cigars were,” Smith said. “I’m just beside myself and so happy for Zenyatta, the Mosses, and all her fans. She just touches everyone, doesn’t she?

“I hope I’m still around so maybe I’ll get at least a chance to maybe ride him,” he added. “I’m going to the gym right now. Got to stay fit!”
Zenyatta is the second of two female Horses of the Year to have their first foals this year. The other is 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, who produced a 125-pound Curlin colt on Jan. 22 at Stonestreet Farms in Lexington. On Jan. 27, the farm sent the 6-year-old Rachel Alexandra and her colt to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for what it called “a precautionary measure after her delivery for pain management related to the birth.” The pair returned to Stonestreet several days later.

Zenyatta was first bred on Feb. 23, 2011, to the Darley stallion Bernardini, a son of A. P. Indy who was champion 3-year-old in 2006. But in March a routine scan revealed that she had lost that pregnancy, and she was bred again to Bernardini in early April. The Mosses kept her early pregnancy status quiet until about 60 days later, when Zenyatta.com publicly confirmed the second pregnancy on May 31.

Zenyatta is the only female so far to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic. She did that in 2009 en route to her title as the year’s champion older female. Lifetime, she won 19 of her 20 starts, falling just short in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, her last start, when beaten a head by Blame. She retired in November 2010 with earnings of $7,304,580. She garnered Eclipse Awards as champion older mare in three consecutive years, from 2008 to 2010, in addition to her Horse of the Year title.

Along the way, she attracted many avid followers who have followed her pregnancy closely and flooded social media and Zenyatta.com with hundreds of comments as the estimated foaling date approached.

“I’m so excited for you!” read one recent comment at Ingordo-Shirreffs’ blog, written as if penned by the mare herself. “I’m still praying that everything will go well for you and your ‘little’ one**Horsey Hugs for you**”

“Hi, Zenny, I’m so happy that your human parents are there to share this special time with you,” read another. “I know you have a strong bond with them, especially with Ann, so I’m sure they’ll be of some comfort to you.”

The statement issued Friday noted that HRTV was to broadcast the official video news release of Zenyatta and her colt at 10 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday. The video was then to be made available at HRTV.com, and updates on the foal’s progress will be posted at Zenyatta.com.

Zenyatta has been at Lane’s End since Dec. 6, 2010, when she shipped to the farm immediately after appearing at a public retirement celebration at Keeneland.