Horses

Zenyatta fans welcome mare's first foal

He already bears a striking resemblance to his incomparable mother — from his subtle white markings to his pronounced, alert ears.

And just like his mom, the first foal out of 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta already has a fan base like few others in the Thoroughbred industry.

At approximately 10:10 p.m. Thursday night, an instant star joined the horse racing community as the champion mare Zenyatta foaled a 130-pound colt by Darley stallion Bernardini.

As reported on Zenyatta.com, the dark bay colt born at Lane's End Farm has a white star on his forehead and white on his feet — not to mention the kind of buzz that could dwarf even racing's most accomplished runners.

When news of the birth starting hitting online and social media sites, Zenyatta's famously devoted fans were effusive in expressing their joy. The amount of traffic on Zenyatta.com caused the Web site to crash several times Friday.

"Zenyatta is an amazing mother," said owners Ann and Jerry Moss, who were present for the foaling. "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."

Zenyatta is the second high-profile equine mom to give birth for the first time this year. Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Horse of the Year, delivered her first foal — a colt by Lane's End sire and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin — on Jan. 22.

The Mosses arrived in Kentucky from California earlier this week in anticipation of their 8-year-old mare's due date. The daughter of Street Cry has resided at Lane's End Farm since her retirement following a career that saw her win 19 of 20 career starts — including her historic triumph over males in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic — four Eclipse Awards and more than $7.3 million in earnings under the guidance of trainer John Shirreffs.

Beaten a head by Blame in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic, Zenyatta was still named Horse of the Year after losing out the previous two years to Rachel Alexandra and Curlin.

In addition to thousands of comments on her Web site and other message boards wishing Zenyatta and her colt well, many fans already chimed in with potential names for one of the most celebrated foals in recent history.

"The Mosses come up with such amazingly good names so I'm sure they're pondering it now," Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, racing manager for the Mosses, said in an interview with HRTV's Race Day America program. "I'm sure there will be a name-game going on in the household now."

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