In 2006, The Green Monkey made $16 million as a 2-year-old in training at the Fasig-Tipton February sale in Florida — a world record price for a thoroughbred. In 2009, the same “Monkey,” after a brief and failed career on the track, entered stud in Florida — where the business has sunk this year to its low-water mark. His story is a general reflection of the history of the racing and breeding business in this country today. The bidding war that took place for him between Coolmore and Sheikh Mohammed (see video below from Larry Zapeye) changed the landscape of the business, too. Coolmore won that particular battle — if you can call it a “win” — but Sheikh Mohammed retooled for the war in North America. His associates now control Fasig-Tipton, and his Darley Stud houses such stallions as Medaglia d’Oro, sire of Rachel Alexandra, and Street Cry, sire of Zenyatta.
Last year Sheikh Mohammed had a huge Breeders’ Cup. The latest chapter in their rivalry takes place at Santa Anita Friday and Saturday, with their trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Aiden O’Brien fine-tuning their charges for the BC Cup assaults, but both camps will face a formidable foe in the big event in unbeaten Zenyatta. Like The Green Monkey, she was a foal of 2004, too, but she made only a modest $60,000 as an auction yearling; unlike him, however, she panned out — and oh, how!