Zenyatta's foal and good news for fans

March, 10, 2012
03/10/12
4:27
PM ET
LEXINGTON, KY -- He was born as a full moon shone over the bluegrass, and those who anxiously awaited his arrival thrilled at the news, finally here -- this little prince, son of Zenyatta.

Zenyatta welcomes her first foal on the evening of March 8, 2012.Ann Moss/Zenyatta.comZenyatta welcomes motherhood and her new foal by Bernardini.
The dark bay colt with the small white star could be seen resting on a fresh bed of straw in a video and photos shared by his connections shortly after his birth around 10:10 a.m. on March 8 at Lane's End Farm. Racing fans in search of a glimpse flooded the website Zenyatta.com (where an official diary is "written" by the 2010 Horse of the Year in first-person) and crashed it with a traffic surge when the news was announced around midnight -- but not before copies of the photos and video were widely distributed via Twitter and Facebook.

"He has polka-dots on his feet, Zennie, just like you!" Ann Moss could be heard saying in the background of the short clip.

"My adorable foal weighed in at 130 pounds, has a white star on his forehead& and some white on his feet," the diary read. "All went very well with the foaling. I must say& I did it like a CHAMP! My foal is absolutely precious."

The Paulick Report was one of the first websites to carry a news item on the colt's arrival and the unique way his birth became public knowledge.

"Rumors of the foaling first hit Twitter shortly after the colt was born, with Central Kentucky breeder John Mulholland (@Ruffian1981) sending out a Tweet saying 'Word on the street is Zenyatta just foaled. I hope it went well,'" Ray Paulick wrote. "Shortly thereafter, Daisy Farish (@daisyfarish), the granddaughter of the Lane's End owner, tweeted, 'ZENYATTA JUST HAD HER BABY! Boy!' This isn't the way the racing press is used to reporting on first foals of champion mares. In the not too distant past, trade magazines dutifully waited for press releases to be sent from farms once management felt confident the time was right to make the announcement. But with Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and digital images (and, yes, diaries written from the first-person perspective of a horse) those conventional ways of communicating are out the window."

Fans were quick to point out the "logical" explanation for the time of the colt's birth  "He was born at 10:10 because he and his Mom are 'perfect tens,'" one wrote  and noted the fact that the racemare who defeated males to win the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic had her foal on International Women's Day. With royalty in his Thoroughbred bloodlines, the son of the three-time champion mare and hot young sire Bernardini (Champion 3-year-old colt in 2006 when he won the Preakness Stakes) will doubtless hold the attention of the racing industry as he grows. We wish him and his connections the very best.

Good News for Racing Fans

Pretty much every sports fan knows the meaning of March Madness. But what about #theothermadness? That's the name of a digital marketing campaign that launches next week to promote horse racing and the road to the 2012 Kentucky Derby.

"Long before Naismith hung the peach basket, horse racing had already created the notion of 'favorites' and 'longshots,'" a media information sheet from The Jockey Club read. "Many sports are defined by emotional moments for actual participants and fans, and human connections in Thoroughbred racing  owners, trainers, riders, and the fans that follow racing  have a highlighted level of excitement during the road to the Kentucky Derby. While we coincidentally share the same time period on the sports calendar with the NCAA Basketball tournament, leave no doubt about it, our madness is deeply entrenched in the history and heritage of America."

If the hashtag doesn't float your boat, The Jockey Club is also unveiling a newly rebranded and fan-centric website featuring "America's Best Racing" complete with video sharing, social network integration and games, and an introduction to America's best horses, races, tracks, jockeys, trainers, and owners.

A splash page goes live at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 11th where racing fans may enter a sweepstakes to win the "Ultimate Racing Weekend," a VIP Trip for eight to the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita. The new site launches Wednesday, April 4. They're calling it the "rebranding of Thoroughbred racing."

Remaining relevant has been a challenge for horse racing, especially in the past 40 years or so. It's not easy to modernize a sport that has existed for so long, especially one with an image problem. For every piece of historical Americana -- Seabiscuit inspiring hope during the Great Depression, Secretariat bearing down the Belmont stretch after Vietnam, Smarty Jones or Funny Cide and the "Sackatoga Six" in a school bus -- images of OTB parlors and dense cigarette smoke and questions over animal welfare and integrity cloud the picture and taint the beauty of pure athletic performance.

A fancy new website won't fix all the issues racing faces today. But it will give fans better access, provide more meaningful information to horseplayers, and offer an up-to-date introduction to newcomers. I'd say that's a fine start in the right direction in an area that has been outdated far too long.

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