Tuesday, June 30, 2009

There's been a lot of talk in the news lately about the two outstanding fillies: Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta.

Here's a look back at one of my favorite posts I made about Zarkava in October 2008 on the DRF FormBlog hosted by Dan Illman.

FormBlog October 06, 2008
Peppers Pride, Weekend Beyers

johnnyz, slewofdamascus,

Here are some more thoughts on Zarkava.

Slew, I read that Daily Racing Form story and I thought that the Aga Khan’s comment about the success of Zarakava was very telling:

"Zarkava and Dalakhani [his 2003 Arc winner] are both products of the base blood developed by Marcel Boussac and my grandfather [the previous Aga Khan]."

Marcel Boussac and the previous Aga Khan were two of the all-time great breeders of thoroughbreds and the pedigree of Zarkava is filled with their breeding genius reaching as far back as 11 generations. Their breeding results are too complicated to discuss in this space, but, in a nutshell, I believe that the Aga Khan was referring to the enormous influence of the broodmare Mumtaz Mahal in the pedigree of Zarkava. Of course, there are other important influences in Zarkava’s pedigree but Mumtaz Mahal is the most prominent and the current Aga Khan still relies heavily on that influence in his stud to this day.

Mumtaz Mahal was a foundation mare of the Aga Khan stud and one of the most influential broodmares of the 20th Century. Almost half of Zarkava’s ancestors (12) in the fifth generation trace back to Mumtaz Mahal in some manner.

Mumtaz Mahal was the dam of the influential mares Mumtaz Begum and Mah Mahal and the second dam of the influential sires Nasrullah and Mahmoud. She was also the third dam of the influential sire Royal Charger. Here’s a good link about Mumtaz Mahal from Thoroughbred Heritage:


Also, Sequence, the second dam of Mr. Prospector who was Zarkava’s great grand sire, is also a descendent of Frizette - another very influential broodmare of the 20th Century and a foundation mare of Marcel Boussac’s stud. Here’s a good link about Frizette:


The practice of the Aga Khan stud breeding the best to the best and breeding from generation to generation as many stallions and mares that are descendents of Mumtaz Mahal has been an important key to the success of the stud operation and Zarkava. Many of the ancestors in Zarkava’s first five generations are champion thoroughbreds and they have also produced numerous champion thoroughbreds as well.

Kahyasi, the broodmare sire of Zarkava, also had a tremendous impact as a sire on the success of the Aga Khan stud. Four of the eight ancestors in Kahyasi’s third generation are descendents of Mumtaz Mahal.

In addition, I believe that the success of Zarkava can also be attributed to the fact that she is descended from the sire line of Mr. Prospector which has been one of the most influential sire lines of the 20th Century.

Gone West is the grand sire of Zarkava and he is, perhaps, in addition to Fappiano, one of the greatest sons of Mr. Prospector to have an influence on the classic races. Gone West and his line have produced numerous Classic Champions as well as Graded Stakes winners:

2,000 Guineas (1993) = Zafonic-Gone West
Breeders’ Cup Mile (1996, 1998) = Da Hoss-Gone West
Belmont (2000) = Commendable-Gone West
Breeders’ Cup Turf (2003) = Johar-Gone West. Johar dead-heated with High Chaparral.
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (2003) = Cajun Beat-Grand Slam-Gone West
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (2004) = Speightstown-Gone West
Kentucky Derby (2004) = Smarty Jones-Elusive Quality-Gone West
Preakness (2004) = Smarty Jones-Elusive Quality-Gone West
Filly & Mare Sprint (2007) = Maryfield-Elusive Quality-Gone West
Juvenile Turf (2007) = Nownownow-Whywhywhy-Mr. Greeley-Gone West
English 1,000 Guineas (2007) = Finsceal Beo-Mr. Greeley-Gone West
Irish 1,000 Guineas (2007) = Finsceal Beo-Mr. Greeley-Gone West
Prix de Diane (2008) = Zarkava-Zamindar-Gone West
French 1,000 Guineas (2008) = Zarkava-Zamindar-Gone West
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2008) = Zarkava-Zamindar-Gone West
Gone West is also the grand sire of the promising Raven’s Pass who recently defeated Henrythenavigtor in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

The moto of the Aga Khan stud is “Success Breeds Success” and that is definitely evident in the spectacular Zarkava.

For more information about Zarkava and the Aga Khan, here’s a link to their website:


Posted by: Calvin Carter on October 06, 2008 at 09:58 PM

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