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First homebred Grade 1 winner for Zayat Stables

SINCE Ahmed Zayat burst on to the scene under the banner of Zayat Stables in 2005, he has campaigned over 16 Graded stakes winners including top-flight performers Point Ashley and Thorn Song.

However, Zayat really hit the big time at Hollywood Park on Saturday when Pioneerof The Nile scored a hard fought head victory in the Grade 1 Cashcall Futurity, in which he became the first homebred Grade 1 winner for the operation.

Remarkably, the son of Empire Maker is the only homebred Zayat has in training among his 150-strong string in the US.

Zayat's association with Pioneerof The Nile's dam, Star Of Goshen, stretches back to 2005 when he paid $680,000 for her Gone West colt, Forefathers, at the Saratoga Yearling Sale.

Following an unproductive stint with Michael Bell in Newmarket, Forefathers was sent to Nick Zito's barn in the US, where he captured two races at Calder before running second in the Grade 2 Swale Stakes. Although Forefathers has yet to win a stakes race, he has more than paid his way as a consistent Graded stakes performer.

Following the acquisition of Forefathers, Zayat purchased Star Of Goshen privately from Cobra Farm. Pioneerof The Nile is the first foal bred by Zayat out of the daughter of Lord At War, who has a yearling filly by Fusaichi Pegasus.

Pioneerof The Nile's win caps a brilliant year for daughters by Lord At War, a grandson of Brigadier Gerard who was a champion in Argentina and Grade 1 winner in the US. Between them, his daughters have bred nine stakes winners worldwide this season including Raven's Pass, Canadian Group 2 winner Niagara Queen and Grade 3 winners Boss Laffitte, Queen of the Catsle and Wishful Tomcat.

Star Of Goshen was a talented filly during her brief career on the racetrack, winning three of fivestarts including the Listed La Troienne Stakes. Although her dam, Castle Eight, also had a brief career - she won three of six starts - Star Of Goshen's half-brother, Powis Castle, retired to stud with seven wins at two to five years to his credit headedby the Grade 2 Malibu Stakes.

Pioneerof The Nile is the second Grade 1 winner from two crops of racing age for Empire Maker, who will stand at Juddmonte in Kentucky next season at $75,000.

As the sixth foal out of US Broodmare of the Year Toussaud, Empire Maker generated plenty of attention from an early stage.

The son of Unbridled did not disappoint on the track for trainer Bobby Frankel, taking the Grade 1 Florida Derby by nine and a quarter lengths before running second in the Kentucky Derby to Funny Cide. He later turned the tables on that opponent when winning the Belmont Stakes.

Naturally, Empire Maker has been strongly supported at stud, and it hasn't taken him long tomake an impact. Among his first crop runners were dual Grade 1 heroine Country Star, who broke her maiden in the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes, and the Grade 2 Mrs Revere Stakes winner Acoma.

Prior to Pioneerof The Nile, Zayat had also enjoyed success with Empire Maker courtesy of the Grade 2 winner Mushka, for whom he paid a sale-topping $1.6m at the Saratoga Yearling Sale. Zayat went on to sell the filly for $2.4m at this year's Keeneland November Sale.

It has also been an exceptional year for Empire Maker's deceased three-parts brother Chester House, who was represented by two Breeders' Cup winners in Muhannak and Ventura. The son of Mr Prospector also enjoyed a successful season in Europe as the sire of the Group 1-placed Phoenix Tower.

In addition, Empire Maker's Grade 1-winning half-sister Honest Lady hit the spotlight this season as the dam of Grade 1 Forego Handicap winner First Defence. The son of Unbridled's Song has been retired to stand alongside Empire Maker at Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky at a fee of $17,500.

 

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