Thursday, June 14, 2012
AMERICA'S BEST RACING Thoroughbred Notebook
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Ahmed Zayat
This Week
Fan Photo
From the Grandstand
In the News
In the Blogosphere
Weekend Stakes Races
Racing to History
The Belmont Stakes rules national and global Twitter trends following Union Rags’ narrow victory over Paynter in the Test of the Champion.
I’ll Have Another in the paddock on Belmont Stakes Day prior to his retirement ceremony. (Image courtesy of Penelope P. Miller)
Winning jockey John Velazquez and trainer Michael Matz are jubilant at the press conference following the Belmont Stakes. (Image courtesy of Penelope P. Miller)
Union Rags sneaks through on the rail to capture the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes. (Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of Horsephotos

Businessman Ahmed Zayat first entered Thoroughbred racing in 2005, and in less than a decade, has amassed some of the most high-profile successes in the industry. In the eight-year span from 2005 to 2012, Zayat Stables has ranked among the top five owners in North America six times, including a #1 ranking in 2008. During this year’s Triple Crown season, Zayat Stables campaigned Derby and Preakness runner-up Bodemeister as well as Belmont Stakes second place-finisher Paynter. One of his favorite horses, Nehro, will run in Saturday’s Stephen Foster Handicap.

Long a passionate horse enthusiast and equestrian, the Egyptian-born entrepreneur raced two Grade 1 winners within the first 12 months of forming Zayat Stables, and has added to that haul every season since.
Horses carrying Zayat’s distinctive blue and gold silks spattered with “Z’s” include 10 Grade I winners (Point Ashley, Bodemeister, Downthedustryroad, A Z Warrior, Eskendereya, Thorn Song, Zensational, Pioneerof the Nile, Jaycito, Rightly So), and four Eclipse Award finalists (Point Ashley, Zensational, Eskendereya, Rightly So).

He moved from Egypt to the United States at age 18 and got his Master's degrees in business and public health from Boston University and Harvard University. Zayat went on to found the Al Ahram Beverage Company in Egypt, which was later sold to Heineken International. He currently lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife Joanne and his four children, Ashley, Justin, Benjamin and Emma. Many of the Zayat Stables runners are tabbed with a monicker “Z” or are named for members of Zayat’s family, including Point Ashley and Justin Phillip.


Name: Ahmed Zayat

Birthplace: Maadi/Cairo, Egypt

My favorite childhood memory: When my team at Victoria College, the British school I went to growing up, swept all categories in equestrian competition nationally in Egypt.

Most influential person in my career: Prominent Wall Street financier Zev Wolfson

My out-of-the-box idea for Thoroughbred Racing: It’s this simple: Treat the players as if they are the owners of the sport

How I was introduced to Thoroughbred Racing: I used to ride in equestrian show jumping competitions as a kid, and I always loved horses. My family owned a farm in Egypt.

Other sports/teams I follow: Soccer, New York Giants

Why I love competing in Thoroughbred racing: It’s the sport of kings.

My Heroes: Anwar Sadat and Nehru

What about me would surprise those who know me: In spite of my reputation for being an emotional person, I’m extremely rational and calculated.

My favorite athletes of all-time: Muhammad Ali and Pele.

Most treasured possession/memento: The books and the writings of my grandfather, Ahmed Hassan El Zayat

A Pet Peeve: People who underestimate your intelligence.

What book(s) I am reading or have recently read: The Prime Minister by Yehudah Avner

Favorite Magazines: Time

Favorite websites I visit daily/weekly: The Paulick Report

Gadget I cannot live without: My iPhone

Hobbies away from Thoroughbred Racing: Swimming

Favorite movies: The Godfather

TV shows I watch: Law and Order and Friends

Favorite foods: Meat, French cuisine, sashimi.

Favorite vacation spot: Sardinia, Italy

What I drive: Bentley

If I could be a guest on any TV talk show it would be: Larry King Live

If I could appear on any television show it would be: Friends

If I could be a guest on any talk radio show it would be: “Imus in the Morning”

If I could be on stage I would play what instrument: Violin

Favorite Musician/Band: Barbra Streisand

Favorite Actor: Morgan Freeman

Newspaper I read daily: Wall Street Journal and New York Times

Favorite artist: Rembrandt

I’d like to have dinner with the following three people: President of Iran, Queen Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher

Best racetrack food can be found at: Churchill Downs

Accomplishment I am most proud of: Privatization of Al-Ahram Beverages Company

My philosophy on life: “If I am only for myself, who will be for me” -Ethic of Fathers

Favorite quote or motto: He lived and died by his principles.

Things I collect: Wine

Favorite charities: Orphanages

Celebrity/prominent personality friends include: A lot to mention!

Favorite authors: Ahmed Hassan el Zayat

Favorite animal other than a horse: dogs

Which actor would play me in a movie: Jack Lemmon, because he can play anybody!

Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended: Super Bowl

Three words that define what Thoroughbred Racing means to me: Competitive, fast, majestic

Which historical figure do you most identify with: President Sadat

Which living person do you most admire: Margaret Thatcher

No. 1 Bucket List Item: To see a Democratic Egypt

Congratulations to photographer Barbara Lynch, winner of the June 13 Fan Photo Contest! From Barbara: “This is a picture taken at Parx Racetrack, Race #5 on 5/26/12 (an Allowance/Optional Claiming race on Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend) I thought it was a cool shot of what looks like only a 3 horse race, but in reality was a field of 5 wide displayed up on the jumbotron.” Want in? E-mail your submissions with a brief caption to!


Union Rags’s trainer Michael Matz, after the Belmont Stakes, on whether he felt vindication for his horse’s disappointing finish in the Kentucky Derby:
I think he showed a lot of gameness today and, yes, believe me, it's sure a lot nicer walking back after the races here than it was in the Kentucky Derby.

Jockey Mike Smith on his narrow defeat aboard Paynter in the Belmont Stakes:
“He ran tremendous. I’m such a perfectionist. [Union Rags] just shouldn’t have gotten through on me. I’d like to see what the outcome would have been if he wouldn’t have. I haven’t had the chance [to talk to Bob Baffert]. I’m sure he doesn’t want to speak to me right now.”

Bob Baffert, trainer of Bodemeister and Paynter, quoted by Gary Mihoces in USA Today:
"Is there a Triple Crown for seconds? I need a Triple Crown for seconds."

Trainer Doug O’Neill on I’ll Have Another:
“He’s had an incredible run. In any sport you have to stay injury free. Unfortunately he came up with a slight injury. Could we have run him? Yes. But would that have been the right move? No. I was proud of the whole team. It was unanimous in not running him. It’s been such an unbelievable run. He’s a once in a lifetime horse. We’re just focused on all the great part of this journey he took us through.”


Video/Photos: The sights and sounds of the 2012 Belmont Stakes (

Video: Full 30-minute documentary, “I’ll Have Another: Charging Toward History” (America’s Best Racing)

Video: I’ll Have Another’s retirement ceremony at Belmont (Three_Chimneys Twitter feed)

Video: Belmont Park: The Triple Crown’s toughest track (

Video: Catching up with Zenyatta and her colt at Lane’s End (


Point system to determine Kentucky Derby field (

Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approves Lasix ban for juvenile stakes starting in 2014  (Daily Racing Form)

Union Rags sticks his neck out and wins the Belmont Stakes (

Belmont Stakes benefits from thrilling finish (

Reasons to reflect on an aborted Triple Crown (

Union Rags deserves to leave Barbaro behind him (

Triple Crown: What a long, strange trip it’s been (

I’ll Have Another’s withdrawal shows how racehorses are fragile, injuries common (The Washington

Farewell I’ll Have another…we barely knew ye (

With Triple Crown races over, what’s next for horse racing? (

Triple Crown wrap up and summer racing preview (

Belmont Stakes viewership up 12% from 2011 (The Blood-Horse)

Belmont Stakes: Race portion earns big numbers, considering the circumstances (

I’ll Have Another first in final NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll (

O’Neill starts search for a new stable star (Daily Racing Form)

Paynter threw a shoe in the Belmont Stakes (

Mark Valeski sidelined for remainder of the year (The Blood-Horse)

Secretariat’s 1973 Preakness winning time to be reviewed (

Stephen Foster shows depth of handicap division (Daily Racing Form)

Champion Royal Delta returns in the Fleur de Lis Stakes (The Blood-Horse)

Black Caviar: The queen of racing? (

Hall of Fame Allen Jerkens keeps going at age 83 (Daily Racing Form)

Mark Guidry rode his way to become King of Chicago, Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer (

The Jockey Club announces project to identify at-risk horses (

UAE approves racing dates, 2013 Dubai World Cup set for March 30     (

Unique horse racing camps for kids (


Triple Crown disappointment Just a small part of the season (

An open letter to I’ll Have Another (

Bob Baffert needs a new jockey (

The business of good horsemanship (

Triple Crown hopes dashed, life in the Thoroughbred industry moves on (

A Different era, and a different animal (

NTRA voters show no love for Belmont winner Union Rags (

Early Eclipse Award leaders (

Paying tribute at the track (

The fifth annual Lone Star Park Handicapping Championship Series is under way with the first and second qualifier tournaments completed. Qualifier 3 is being held on Saturday, June 16. The series culminates with a Championship Tournament on October 6, 2012. Click here to enter Qualifier 3.The contest deadline is Monday, June 11.

The 2012 Belmont Summer Handicapping Challenge is taking place June 23-24.  The top three finishers will earn their spot into the NHC, January 25-26.  The contest entry fee is $400.  All entry fees will be returned as prize money

Monmouth Park's Preakness Day Handicapping Contest has been rescheduled to July 7.  Contact Brian Skirka, for more details.

Click here to view the current Daily Racing Form NHC Tour schedule and to see a list of current NHC 14 qualifiers. 

Player Profile




William Wilbur
Bill had two top- three finishes recently to earn his second trip to the NHC and accumulate 3,500 NHC Tour points. He will be representing in January. 

Click here to read Bill's complete NHC Tour player biography.

Mark McGuire (Newbury Park, CA) continues to top the Daily Racing Form NHC Tour overall and first-half Leader Boards.  Mark Streiff (Mission Viejo, CA) is in second place on the overall and first-half Leader Boards.

Click here to view the overall Leader Board standings.

June 14, 1880: The first post parade of horses in any American race took place prior to the running of the Belmont Stakes. Horses had previously gone directly from paddock to post.

June 14, 1967: Jockey Craig Perret, age 16, won his first career race at Arlington Park. Despite starting well into the season, Perret finished the year third among the nation’s apprentice riders in races won (with 114) and led all apprentices in the earnings category, with $610,003.

June 15, 1963: Five weeks prior to his 90th birthday, Hall of Fame trainer ‘Sunny Jim’ Fitzsimmons retired. “Mr. Fitz,” as he was also known, trained such outstanding runners as Nashua, Bold Ruler, Johnstown and Triple Crown winners Gallant Fox and his son Omaha.

June 15, 1972: In preparation for his July 4 debut, Secretariat worked five furlongs from the starting gate in 1:00 1/5.

June 15, 1977: Future rivals Affirmed and Alydar met for the first time, in the Youthful Stakes at Belmont Park. Affirmed triumphed over Alydar, who finished fifth, and went on to win four of their six races together in 1977.

June 16, 1943: With a shortage of male workers due to the war, Garden State Park announced it would employ female mutuels clerks.

June 17, 1912: A record parimutuel payoff on a straight $2 wager was set when Wishing Ring, sent off at odds of 941-1, paid $1,885.50 to win at Latonia. The mark was only surpassed in 1989, when Power to Geaux paid $2,922 for a $2 wager made at AKsarben on a race that was simulcast from Fair Grounds.

June 17, 1967: Buckpasser’s 15-race winning streak ended when he finished third to stablemate Poker in the Bowling Green Handicap at Aqueduct, his only attempt at turf racing. Buckpasser carried 135 pounds while Poker was assigned 112.

June 18, 1936: Omaha, the 1935 Triple Crown winner owned by New York banker William Woodward, lost the 2 1/2-mile Ascot Gold Cup by a head to filly Quashed at Ascot, England. A crowd of 200,000 was said to be present for the race, for which Omaha was the 11-8 favorite. Omaha had shipped to England aboard the Aquitania on Jan. 8, 1936 and won the May 30 Queens Plate at Kempton Park, England.

June 18, 2001: Jockey Russell Baze closed out the 2001 Bay Meadows meet by winning the track’s riding title for an amazing 25th time.

June 19, 1867: The inaugural Belmont Stakes was run at Jerome Park in the Bronx and was won by a filly, Ruthless, who defeated colts to earn $1,850 for her victory. Ruthless was one of a group of fillies known as the “Barbarous Battalion,” daughters of the mare Barbarity, owned by Francis Morris of New York. The other “battalion” members—all full sisters—were Remorseless, Relentless, Regardless and Merciless.

June 19, 1880: Sheepshead Bay racecourse opened for a six-day meet. The track was the original site of the Suburban, Futurity and Realization Stakes, which eventually were transferred to Belmont Park.

June 19, 1942: Count Fleet won his first race, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

June 19, 1973: Officials of Arlington Park invited Secretariat to compete in a specially created race, the $125,000 Arlington Invitational Stakes.

June 19, 1992: Charlie Whittingham became the second trainer in history, behind D. Wayne Lukas, to top $100 million in purse earnings when he sent Little by Little to a second-place finish in the sixth race at Hollywood Park.

June 19, 1998: The NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship from Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Tex., was nationally televised for the first time on ESPN2. Shane Sellers won the 12-jockey competition.

June 20, 1908: With his final victory in the Tidal Stakes at Sheepshead Bay, Colin retired undefeated after 15 starts. No major American racehorse approached this record until 1988, when Personal Ensign retired with a perfect 13-for-13 career.

June 21, 1924: Exterminator, winner of the 1918 Kentucky Derby, concluded his seven-year racing career.  Exterminator raced until he was nine, winning 50 of his 100 starts. He seldom carried less than 130 pounds in handicap races. Like other geldings Kelso, Forego, and John Henry, Exterminator improved with age, enjoying his greatest success when he was seven.

June 21, 1947: Assault won the Brooklyn Handicap and dethroned Whirlaway as the then money-winning champion of the world. The victory boosted his earnings to $576,670.

June 21, 1975: S. Kaye Bell became the first woman to train the winner of a $100,000 stakes race when she sent Mr. Lucky Phoenix to win the Michigan Mile and One-Eighth Handicap at Detroit Racecourse.

June 22, 1935: Seabiscuit won his first race, at Narragansett Park.

June 23, 1985: With a victory aboard Greinton in the Hollywood Gold Cup, Laffit Pincay Jr. became the second jockey in history to surpass $100 million in purse earnings.

June 23, 2002: Hall of Fame Jockey Chris McCarron ended his 28-year riding caring after piloting Came Home to an easy win in the Grade III Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park. McCarron finished his career with 7,141 victories and his horses earned purses of $264,351,579.

June 24, 1893: The field for the American Derby at Washington Park was held at the post for an hour and 40 minutes, the longest pre-race delay in history. Boundless, with “Snapper” Garrison aboard, won the $49,500 race, which was witnessed by a crowd of 48,000. Garrison and three other riders were each fined $250 for bad conduct at the start.

June 24, 1952: Jockey Eddie Arcaro rode his 3,000th career winner at Arlington Park. He was the first American-born rider to reach that mark.

June 24, 1972: In the fastest workout of the day for six furlongs, Secretariat went the distance in 1:12 4/5 at Belmont over a sloppy track. He would make his debut 10 days later, in a July 4 race for maiden runners at Aqueduct.

June 24, 1973: Charlie Whittingham swept the top three spots in the Hollywood Gold Cup Invitational Handicap when his trainees Kennedy Road, Quack and Cougar II finished first, second and third, respectively.

June 24, 1977: Alydar, at odds of 2.10-1, broke his maiden by 6 3/4 lengths at Belmont Park.

June 24, 1979: Affirmed, ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr., became the first horse to top $2 million in earnings after he won the Hollywood Gold Cup.

June 24, 1990: Criminal Type became the first horse to win consecutive $1 million races after capturing the Hollywood Gold Cup. He had previously won the $1 million Pimlico Special on May 12.

June 25, 2000: Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus was syndicated by Coolmore Stud for a reported $70 million.

June 26, 1938: Nearco ended his career a perfect 14-for-14 by winning the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp.

June 26, 1986: Jockey Sandy Hawley won his 5,000th career race, aboard Mighty Massa, at Canterbury Downs.

June 26, 1992: Jockey Dave Gall became the eighth rider in history to ride 6,000 winners when he rode Nana’s Nice Boy to victory at Fairmount Park.

June 26, 1994: Jockey Chris McCarron rode his 6,000th career winner, Andestine, in the Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park. He was the 11th rider to reach 6,000 and the third-youngest, behind Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr.

June 26, 2000: Hall of Fame trainer Lucien Laurin, conditioner of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, died at the age of 88.

June 27, 1860: The Queen’s Plate, the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America, was first run. Don Juan was the winner, after winning two of the three heats that comprised the event.

June 27, 1932: Calumet Farm recorded its first victory in a Thoroughbred race with two-year-old Warren Jr., who won by a nose at Arlington Park to earn $850.

June 27, 1986: Jockey Kent Desormeaux rode in his first race ever, finishing third aboard a $2,500 claimer named Ducknest Coal Mine, at odds of 35-1, in the second race at Evangeline Downs.


Colonial Turf Cup, 3&up, $500,000, 1 3-16M (T), Colonial Downs

Stephen Foster Handicap, 3&up, $400,000, Grade I, 1 1-8M, Churchill Downs

Vanity Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $200,000, Grade I, 1 1-8M, Betfair Hollywood Park

Fleur de Lis Handicap, 3&up (f&m), $150,000, Grade II, 1 1-8M, Churchill Downs

Hill Prince Stakes, 3yo, $150,000, Grade III, 1M (T), Belmont Park

Obeah Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $150,000, Grade III, 1 1-8M, Delaware Park

Victoria Stakes, 2yo, $150,000, 5F, Woodbine

Edward P. Evans All Along Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, Grade III, 1 1-8M (T), Colonial Downs

Regret Stakes, 3yo fillies, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1-8M (T), Churchill Downs

Cinderella Stakes, 2yo fillies, $100,000, 5 1-2F, Betfair Hollywood Park

Matt Winn Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, 1 1-16M, Churchill Downs

TTA Sales Futurity, 2yo, $100,000, 5F, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie

TTA Sales Futurity, 2yo fillies, $100,000, 5F, Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie

Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes, 2yo, $100,000, 5 1-2F, Betfair Hollywood Park

Mohegan Sky Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $90,000, 1 1-16M (T), Belmont Park

Parx Dash, 3&up, $150,000, 5F (T), Parx Racing

Pegasus Stakes, 3yo, $100,000, Grade III, 1 1-16M (T), Monmouth Park

Satin and Lace Stakes, 3&up (f&m), $100,000, 5 1-2F, Presque Isle Downs

J. Kenneth Self Shelby County Boys & Girls Club Stakes, 3&up, $100,000, 1M (T), Indiana Downs

Karl Boyes Memorial Northwestern Pennsylvania Stakes, 3&up, $100,000, 5 1-2F, Presque Isle Downs