A racehorse with one of the most illustrious pedigrees in thoroughbred breeding is taking on a new career as a jumper after failing to fire on the track.
Cozmic One was born in 2012 and was the first foal of superstar racehorse Zenyatta, by leading sire and multiple graded stakes winner Bernardini. But despite his pedigree he never found success on the track – earning just $5770 in five starts, and a fourth placing his best result.
A career in show jumping probably wasn’t what his connections were dreaming about when he was born, but he has been taken on by Isabela de Sousa to compete at the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover next October at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
De Sousa, 16, and her family’s De Sousa Stables in Lexington acquired the five-year-old this month from owners and breeders Jerry and Ann Moss. De Sousa is a three-time Thoroughbred Makeover Show Jumping Champion.
“When we were looking for a horse [for the Makeover] last year, we thought of him and contacted his connections and they weren’t ready to retire him from racing at the time,” she said.
“A couple months ago, my dad spoke to his connections during the yearling sales in Kentucky and inquired about him, and they called us saying he would be available. We’re very excited about him, not only because he’s out of Zenyatta, but also because our first Bernardini baby [2015 Makeover mount Dewey Square] was amazing too.”
Thoroughbreds are a family passion for the de Sousas. Sergio, Isabela’s father, is managing partner of Hidden Brook Farm in Paris, Kentucky, and her mother, Dr Karen Wolfsdorf, is a veterinarian at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute’s McGee Fertility Center. Isabela and her sister Nathalie help retrain off-track Thoroughbreds on the family farm, with a focus on the hunter/jumper ring.
When the family announced the acquisition of Cozmic One, the response was huge from the racing industry.
Isabela de Sousa took the reaction in stride. “It’s been pretty overwhelming, but it just shows how many people like Zenyatta,” she said. “It would be great to see all those followers join RRP so they can continue cheering for horses they liked at the track.”
For now, “Coz” is enjoying some time off. De Sousa thinks he’ll make a great show jumper or hunter, or maybe an equitation horse, but plans to wait and see what the horse seems best suited for.
“He’s a really good-looking horse. He’s tall, dark and handsome. He’s got nice movement and he’s got a great eye,” she said. “We just thought we’d give him a shot and see what happens!”
Next year’s Thoroughbred Makeover takes place between October 4 and 8, and is an initiative of the Retired Racehorse Project. It features 300 off-track thoroughbreds, each with 10 months or less of retraining. There are three days of competition in 10 different disciplines, with competitors vying for a share of $100,000 in prize money. At the end one overall winner is crowned America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred.
Zenyatta, the 2010 Horse of the Year, was famous in her days on the racetrack for her 17 consecutive victories in graded stakes events, including 13 grade one races, which inspired a legion of devoted fans the world over. She was retired in 2010. Cozmic One has a younger half brother who has raced, Ziconic, a four-year-old chestnut by Tapit. Zenyatta’s 2014 War Front filly Z Princess was euthanised after a paddock accident in the same year, and her 2016 colt, Z Prince, also by War Front, died only a few days after birth.