Zayats aiming for global domination with Orby Sale statement
Owners of American Pharoah snap up €1.6 million Frankel colt
Having first set foot in the thoroughbred industry in 2005, it has taken Cairo-born businessman Ahmed Zayat a mere 12 years to forge one of the most formidable racing and breeding operations in the world.
The outfit, which trades under the name of Zayat Stables, is best known for having bred and raced Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. However, its impact on the racing and bloodstock worlds runs much deeper than just the iconic son of Pioneerof The Nile.
In that time, Zayat Stables has produced a staggering 24 stallions, including Pioneerof The Nile, Bodemeister and Eskendereya, and having snapped up the Goffs Orby Sale-topper on Wednesday they are hoping to have unearthed yet another.
Justin Casse had to go all the way to €1.6 million to secure the son of Frankel offered by Marlhill House Stud, although the horse himself does not have quite as far to go, as Justin Zayat revealed the colt would remain in Ireland to be trained by Aidan O'Brien.
"We'll be partnering with MV Magnier and Coolmore on this horse," explained an animated Zayat. "He's an unbelievable physical and as soon as I saw him I said 'wow - I can't leave here without him'. I'm looking for a rock star that can start our global expansion!"
The purchase of the Frankel colt signals a broadening of the Zayats' horizons as, while they have bought horses in Europe previously, those purchases have almost exclusively been raced in the US.
"We're trying to become more international," Zayat added. "This is my second year coming out here. All the horses we bought last year were taken back to America, and we've been having a lot of success with them.
"We have a horse named Irish Territory, a Declaration Of War horse who happened to be the most expensive yearling by the sire at the time and who was placed in a Grade 3 out in Saratoga on his second start. We also have a Fastnet Rock colt called Desert Stone we bought at Tattersalls running in a Grade 3 at Belmont this weekend - he could potentially be a Breeders' Cup horse."
Despite the family's record for producing stallions, their 2016 Goffs Orby haul also included fillies by Le Havre, High Chaparral and Kodiac, and Zayat spoke in glowing terms about the esteem in which he holds European bloodlines.
"We're also looking to bring some well-pedigreed fillies back to America," he said. "We believe the Europeans have way stronger bloodlines, so we're trying to take those pedigrees and breed them to American stallions and expand the breed there a little.
"Though when you're bringing a horse back to America there are certain criteria you need to look for; you can't just bring the progeny of some random stallion back that no one in America has heard of."
As well as a burgeoning racing stable to manage, the family also have the first crop of American Pharoah foals on the ground. Naturally, anticipation is nearly at fever pitch for Zayat.
"I miss seeing him racing every day," said Zayat. "I was just talking to Elaine Lawlor, who has a very good filly in Australia right now called Global Glamour. I was telling her you have to take in those moments, as they go by so quickly.
"It's exciting to see his foals on the ground and to think that this time next year we'll be seeing the American Pharoahs at the yearling sales. Although I think we'll probably keep all our own foals by him. We love them so we want to race them.
"What's so beautiful about all this is that the first horse we ever bred was Pioneerof The Nile," he continued. "He ran second in the Derby and then his son American Pharoah came out and won it - now we're looking forward to his offspring running in the race. We're continuing what we like to call the 'Z line'!"
Zayat also gave cause for hope that American Pharoah's sons and daughters might be seen in Britain and Ireland in the not too distant future.
"Possibly," he replied when asked about the possibility of the Triple Crown winner's progeny pitching up at yearling sales on both sides of the Atlantic. "I've had a lot of people talking to me about bringing one out here. When I go back home I'll huddle with the team and discuss it - it's definitely an option."