Stands for $75,000 live foal at Darley.
The announcement Wednesday, January 26, 2011, that Horse of the Year Zenyatta would be bred to A.P. Indy's classic-winning son Bernardini in 2011 drew the lion's share of media attention and made the Darley sire the stallion of the week here.
Zenyatta is a resident of Lane's End Farm, home to A.P. Indy himself, but the mare's connections chose the son over the father after the promising start at stud Bernardini made with his first crop of 2-year-olds in 2010. He was represented by two G1 winners in the crop, as well as by the promising classics contenders To Honor and Serve, a G2 winner, and Stay Thirsty, a G1-placed colt. At the end of 2010, Bernardini finished second on the Freshman sire list by progeny earnings behind Congrats, another son of A.P. Indy.
Both A.P. Indy sons proved off the bat that they could get early 2-year-olds with classic potential, and this characteristic played a role in the choice of Bernardini for Zenyatta, according to published reports. Paramount in consideration, according to David Ingordo, pedigree advisor to the owners, was the speed, size, and early promise of Bernardini.
Bernardini's sire A.P. Indy is a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of a distinguished daughter of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Before A.P. Indy, Weekend Surprise produced Preakness winner Summer Squall in 1987. She foaled A.P. Indy in 1989, and in 1990, the year his half-brother by Storm Bird became a classic winner in May, the future Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic winner sold at Keeneland in July as the year's high-priced yearling, for $2,900,000. In other words, A.P. Indy was American racing royalty at the time he sold. He is a product of the Bold Ruler line through its two best representatives, both bred on the Bold Ruler/Princequillo sire-line cross that harmoniously combined speed with stamina, and he has been a quintessential American dirt sire and one of the few around today who gets offspring that stay 10-12 furlongs---an anomaly, yes, but very much in the tradition of his and his sire's and grandsire's ability to win the Belmont Stakes.
A.P. Indy adapted to a shortening distance landscape in the US through a fortuitous combination with daughters of Mr. Prospector and daughters of his many sons and grandsons. Many of the resulting foals from these combinations are now at stud---horses such as Pulpit (sire of sires Sky Mesa, Tapit, and Stroll), Malibu oon, Flatter, and leading first-crop sire Congrats---and these sires are crafting a dynasty that actually threatens to save the crippled and speed-biased US sire ranks from the bland production of nine-furlong and below speed horses. And one of its most recent examples, Bernardini, may actually become the first prominent A.P. Indy-line sire that draws European interest back to these shores as the heir apparent to horses like the recently pensioned Kingmambo and the aging Dynaformer.
Like his sire, Bernardini was a classic winner; instead of the Belmont Stakes, though, he won the Preakness, by 5 1/4 lengths. He stayed farther, also winning the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup by almost 7 lengths and the Travers Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths, and he was beaten in the Breeders' Cup Classic by only the top-class older horse Invasor.
Standing at Darley his first season for $100,000, Bernardini no doubt covered a stellar book of mares and success was predicted for him, but not as quickly as its come: On Oct. 9, he achieved a rare double of two Group 1/Grade 1 winners from his first crop, when the filly A.Z. Warrior won the Frizette on dirt at Belmont while the colt Biondetti took the Gran Criterium in Milan on turf. Both races were at a mile, too, and the duo became the second and third stakes winners for the sire following the Group 3 win in England by the filly Theysken's Theory---subsequently Group 1 placed, too. Meanwhile in the US, the impressive maiden winner Stay Thirsty is Grade 1 placed on dirt as well, and To Honor and Serve is a G2 winner with serious classic aspirations.
Bernardini has had several other European winners as well, and his success in Europe will no doubt get the attention of European buyers. More importantly, his early success on both sides of the pond bodes well for the future because he was expected to do more with his 3-year-olds over a distance of ground, with the type of staying sire power he has behind him.