03/10/2012 2:18PM

Zenyatta: Routine foaling for a special mare

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

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The birth of Zenyatta’s 130-pound Bernardini colt, the mare’s first, took place in an unusually heated atmosphere as the 2010 Horse of the Year’s fans took to the Internet in droves, speculating and fretting publicly over this important first in the mare’s new career as a broodmare at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky. The horsemen in attendance for the colt’s birth say the event went as routinely as any other foaling, but they acknowledge that the first delivery by one of the world’s most popular racemares was anything but a routine event for all concerned.

“We don’t have any other mares that the public is lined up to come see,” said Bill Farish, who runs the farm for his father, farm founder Will Farish. “Certainly there was added pressure, but we foal a lot of mares, and it was nice having the Mosses there because they are so easy and understanding and great to have around that it made it kind of fun and different.”

On Saturday, a day and a half after his birth at Lane’s End Farm, the colt and his mother were to spend several hours in their paddock, basking in central Kentucky’s sunny, 55-degree afternoon, said Lane’s End general manager Mike Cline.

“We’ll stretch out her outdoor time and let her get rested up and let the two of them continue to mesh,” Cline said. “She’s becoming a great mother and nurturing and taking care of the foal. We couldn’t be happier with the way things are going right now.”

Farish and Kline were on hand for the birth. Also in the barn that night were Zenyatta’s owners, Ann and Jerry Moss, and a veterinary team led by Dr. Richard Holder. Assistant broodmare manager Charles Campbell and barn foreman Matt Martinez also were there.

It was a busy day of foaling for Lane’s End. There were six foals born Thursday, starting at 3 p.m. and ending with Zenyatta’s.

“The interesting thing was, when she came on, she came on really quickly,” Farish said. “We didn’t think she was going to foal that night. She didn’t really have the normal progression. I don’t know that there even is a normal, because with maiden mares, they’ll surprise you every time.”

The Mosses, who had arrived from California on March 4, were having dinner in nearby Midway, Ky., when the call came that Zenyatta was showing sings of going into labor.

“The foaling was actually what you sort of pray for,” Cline said. “It was absolutely by the book and went very normally. She broke water about 10 minutes after 10 and foaled about 20 minutes later. It was what you hope for, but you don’t always take those things for granted. We’ve all been involved in enough stuff to know that with horses you don’t take anything for granted. But it was a neat thing with the owners here getting to witness the whole thing. Zenyatta’s been such a big part of their lives, and I think it was special for them.”

During a 30-year career, Cline figures he has seen about 3,000 foals born and says he has never experienced quite the level of public attention Zenyatta has gotten since arriving at the farm in December 2010. At the moment, the foaling barn and farm office are awash in balloon bouquets and floral arrangements featuring white lilies, pink tulips, and blue hydrangeas.

“We’ve never really gotten balloons and flowers, except occasionally on horses’ birthdays,” Cline said. “But Zenyatta gets stuff all the time. I’m standing in the foaling barn and there are two big things of balloons with flowers here. We’ve gotten stuff on just about every occasion: Christmastime, her birthday, when she had the foal. We’re always getting carrots and apples and peppermints. Zenyatta’s been special to a lot of people, and I’ve come to appreciate since she’s been here how much she means to everybody. Thank goodness the Mosses have been so good about sharing her with everybody.”

The Mosses stayed in Kentucky to watch Zenyatta and her colt turned out for the first time Friday. Mother and foal spent about two hours outside, and Cline says their paddock time would gradually increase.

As for first impressions of the colt, Farish said: “He’s a pretty good-sized foal, 130 pounds, but he’s quite tall and leggy.”

Chances are, he’s going to be a celebrity for the rest of his days.

“It was a unique, special thing for everybody,” Cline said of the colt’s birth. “When you get in the middle of foaling and you get busy, you don’t think much about who you’re working with. But when it’s all over with, you sit back and say, ‘Wow, this is a colt out of Zenyatta.’ ”