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The winner of Saturday’s G1 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita resulted indirectly from a yearling selection a good many years ago by bloodstock buyer and adviser Renato Gameiro.

At the 1994 Keeneland September sale, Gameiro purchased a Quiet American filly on behalf of Stud TNT for $70,000. That was quite a solid price at the time, as the American bloodstock market was just getting itself out of the pit that the 1986-87 tax changes had dug and thrown the sport into.

The purchase proved a bargain for Stud TNT, as the filly was named Cara Rafaela and became a G1 winner and producer. As the dam of champion Bernardini, Cara Rafaela became a Broodmare of the Year, and the mare’s Storm Cat daughter Ile de France has produced a G1 winner in Zenyatta Stakes winner Love and Pride, who is by AP Indy like her near-kinsman Bernardini.

A few years after the purchase, Gameiro recounted some of the factors in selecting young horses as he saw them. He said, “First of all, I look to see what it is that grabs me about a horse. What is my immediate reaction? Then I watch the young horse walk, observe it in motion, get a feel for whether it is confident, is it happy.

“Horses that are happy, that are not intimidated, are easier to train. I look at the horse from the side. Does it have scope? How is it balanced? I like a horse that has a more European look to it, although that is not the most favored look at the sales these days. But Cara Rafaela was lovely. She had balance and poise and a beautiful head and top. She was very nice.”

One of the interesting things about Gameiro’s selection process is his search for positives. Most buyers have a list of prospects to look at and try to find ways to knock horses off to form a short list of horses to put through the vetting process.

That really isn’t the best way to find a good horse. As Gameiro and other good horsemen search for young athletes, they are looking for certain positive traits that they have seen in great and very good horses, and they keep looking till they find a reasonable number of animals who possess at least most of the best traits.

If it sounds easy, let me assure you that even the best selectors have a long wait between premium successes.

But from the evidence already before us and the good prospects coming along, the produce of Cara Rafaela and her daughters will continue to enliven the racetracks for years to come.

The produce record for Ile de France is below:

1st Dam: Ile de France, gr m, 1999. Bred by Stud TNT (KY). Raced 3 yrs in NA, 12 sts, 2 wins, $125,300 (ssi = 3.84). 3rd Santa Anita Oaks (gr. 1).

2004: Our Rafaela, gr/ro f, by Dynaformer. Raced 1 yr in NA, 4 sts, 0 wins, $22,560.
2005: Pretty Carina, dk b/ f, by Seeking the Gold. Raced 3 yrs in NA, 7 sts, 2 wins, $93,340.
2006: Right One, dk b/ c, by Seeking the Gold. Raced 1 yr in NA, 2 sts, 0 wins, $800.
2007: Galactic, gr/ro g, by Distorted Humor. Raced 3 yrs in NA, 8 sts, 3 wins, $51,965.
2008: LOVE AND PRIDE. dk br f, by AP Indy. Raced 3 yrs in NA, 7 wins, $925,760.
At 3: Won Proud Spell S. (R); 3rd Let Me Linger S., Real Prize S., Gazelle S. (G1).
At 4: Won Affectionately S., Personal Ensign Invitational H. (G1), Zenyatta S. (G1), Obeah S. (G3); 2nd Top Flight H. (G2), Allaire DuPont Distaff S. (G3).
2009: French Storm, b r, by A.P. Indy. Raced 1 yr in NA, 3 sts, 0 wins, $7,240.
2010:

2nd Dam: CARA RAFAELA, gr m, 1993. Bred by Mike G. Rutherford Sr. (KY). Broodmare of the Year. Raced 3 yrs in NA, 24 sts, 4 wins, $884,452 (ssi = 19.28). Won Hollywood Starlet S. (G1), Alcibiades S. (G2), Pio Pico S. (R); 2nd Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies S. (G1), Matron S. (G1), Ashland S. (G1), Santa Anita Oaks (G1), Las Virgenes S. (G1), Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2); 3rd Kentucky Oaks (G1), Mother Goose S. (G1). Dam of BERNARDINI (b h, A.P. Indy, $3,060,480. Champion 3yo Colt. Won Travers S. (G1), Preakness S. (G1), Jockey Club Gold Cup S. (G1), Jim Dandy S. (G2), Withers S. (G3); 2nd Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1)).

 

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