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Zenyatta bred to Bernardini

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Horse of the Year Zenyatta was bred to Bernardini on Wednesday at about 8 a.m., according to a notice posted on Zenyatta.com.

That site is maintained by Dottie Ingordo Shirreffs, the racing manager for Zenyatta's owners Ann and Jerry Moss and the wife of Zenyatta's trainer, John Shirreffs.

According to the website, staff at Lane's End Farm, where Zenyatta boards, pulled the Street Cry mare's mane and polished her hooves Tuesday in advance of her first mating with Darley stallion and former 3-year-old champion Bernardini. Veterinarians also checked her ovulation status, a standard procedure prior to breeding.

On Wednesday, 7-year-old Zenyatta shipped via Sallee van from Lane's End to Darley Stud at Jonabell Farm, about a 10-minute ride, accompanied by Lane's End manager Michael Cline and other farm staff. According to Ingordo's account, the covering was "textbook" and "Zenyatta was unbelievably professional, especially for a maiden mare."

Zenyatta was back on the van and returning to Lane's End by 8:30 a.m., according to the website.

Zenyatta likely will undergo an ultrasound exam 14 days post-breeding to determine whether she is pregnant.

The gestation period in horses is about 11 months, and most breeders hope to mate their mares to get foals born between January and March. Because registered Thoroughbred foals' official birthdates are Jan. 1, foals born earlier in the year are closer to their actual age when their official age changes. Many breeders and owners feel that later foals have a disadvantage in the sale ring and in their early racing careers, because they are competing against foals that are more physically mature.