Ask The Experts #29

Ziconic and Cozmic One stand opposite each other. Photo by Kyle Acebo

Ziconic and Cozmic One stand opposite each other. Photo by Kyle Acebo


How large is Cozmic One and how does he compare in size to Zenyatta at the same age?

Lib Berry

Phoenix, AZ


Coz is approximately 1,060 pounds and 16’3 at this time. One of the big differences between Coz and Zenyatta is that she has an amazing beam (this is how wide a horse is from hip bone to hip bone). Ziconic, at this stage of his life, is smaller than both Zenyatta and Coz but he does have her beam. Ziconic is robust while Coz is classic in his physical appearance.

Expert: John Shirreffs


I have great admiration for John as a trainer and Dottie as a manager along with the other very perceptive and knowledgeable team you surround yourselves with.  Knowing how closely you listen to and monitor each horse as an individual, how do you make the decision to run a horse, in what type of race, and on what surface?

Sheryl North

Tucson, AZ

A:For a first time starter, you must feel comfortable with the fact that the horse is physically and mentally ready to start his/her career. Timing and physical condition for a first time starter is more important than the surface.  

As for surface, unless you know a horse prefers either dirt or turf (from the morning training or prior races), I (John) believe that the timing of the race is most important. You want a horse ‘peaking’. If running well on the dirt, then you continue this. If not, and the pedigree is turf oriented, then the turf would be an option.

In most racing jurisdictions, you do not get to train on the turf. 99% of the time horses are training on dirt, so you have a very good opportunity to observe how they handle this surface from the morning workouts. Body language and how the horse moves is also an important concept to examine, review, and consider.

As for selecting races, so much of this is based upon how he/she is  training, both physically and mentally, and the class of the horse. The first goal is to have the horse break his/her maiden. Once this is accomplished, there are allowance races for horses to run in where they can ‘move up the ladder’ and show how much progress they are making and class they are exhibiting.  

Can a horse keep moving up the ladder, meeting more serious competition with success? This is the primary consideration here.

Below are the primary levels for horses to participate in as they are ‘moving up the ladder’:

• Break the Maiden
• First level allowance
• Second level allowance
• Third-plus level and conditioned allowance races
• Listed Stakes
• Graded Stakes: Grade 3, Grade 2, and Grade 1 (which is the best)

If a horse is having difficulty achieving at the various stages of the above levels, there are claiming races for those horses. They are offered at different levels and conditions in the various jurisdictions.

When you are selecting races for a horse, you are basically handicapping the race and the ‘results’ without knowing officially who the other entrants are. The entries are taken days in advance prior to the race. This is where studying races and the competition each day becomes extremely necessary and important. You must know who else is eligible for that condition or what other horse could be planning on the same spot you are. Then you have to consider whether your horse can compete with these horses successfully.

All of these factors are extremely important and must be considered. The goal is always to put your horse in the best race possible for optimum achievement!

Experts: John Shirreffs and Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs

Our Experts


John Shirreffs


John Shirreffs has been around horses all of his life and has always felt it was important to help a horse become significant, to make history. Zenyatta’s Breeders Cup wins helped his dreams come true. Read John’s complete bio.


Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs

Racing Manager

As the Moss’ Racing Manager for the last 29 years, Dottie has actively been a part of each Moss horse’s life. It’s a family affair, as her husband John trains many of the horses that she manages. Read Dottie’s complete bio.


  1. Dear Terry.Good to see you back.So sorry to hear of your losses in recent times.We’ve missed you here on the blog.Always live in the moment.Hugs Sheena.

    1. Thanks, sheena. It has been a rough three weeks.

  2. Flintshire has been ruled out of Ascot’s big race tomorrow.After 22mm of rain the going is now described as “heavy”.Such a shame as it’s been a dry rather than hot week.Sheena

    1. Rats!

  3. Golden Horn doubtful for tomorrow after over an inch of rain at Ascot today.One happy horse is Clever Cookie the 7yr old gelding trained by Peter Niven who loves the soft/heavy going.This weather is more typical of the jumps season not mid-summer!Sheena.

  4. Dear Judy.Goodnight God bless you LM PC HT Cap Hercules Frank and all the sweeties.Love and hugs Sheena.X

  5. It is so amazing the tremendous difference in these half brothers. In personality, temperament and physical structure. They are both precious and so dear to us as they are a part of our Zenny. We watch them with such love and interest in their well being. May they be blessed with contentment in their endeavor to be racehorses. Thanks for the info, John and Dottie.

    1. Remember that Zen has the possibility of passing only one of TWO X genes to a colt while Bernardini will pass ONLY his Y gene to a colt. I guess that is obvious that Zen passed on a different X to XY Cozmic One and XY Ziconic.

      If Berdardini had sired a filly with Zen . . . Then we would have had to wonder who’s X he got from the two X’s of his dam. We can now understand why so many years, indeed ages, have gone by without understanding about genetics in breeding and/or why the mistaken reliance on sires. Was it lack of understanding or male ego? LOL

  6. Ward And Rothchild Wrap Up Pan Ams With Individual Show Jumping Gold
    By: Lindsay Berreth The Chronicla of the Horse

  7. We are not “on the same page” again. Many recent comments on the next post (Zenyatta Shop)

    1. Sandy,
      It was very confusing with I hit the Blog button and Shopping came up.
      Really don’t think the Zenyatta Team meant the Shopping area for Comments.
      As you said, we’ve been down this path before
      Sigh, BGG

      1. I know – we’ve got to get peeps to “sign the pledge” about posting on Zenyatta Shop entries (especially one for a sale that is already over with!!!). :-)

  8. One to watch: 2 year old filly by Curlin – Havre de Grace.
    Race Replay Video is in the article.
    Not fond of her name.

    Off the Tracks Soars in Schuylerville Stakes
    By Claire Novak The Blood-Horse July 24, 2015

    1. Hmm-a little confusion in names here. Here is the right info
      Off the Tracks pedigree
      Correction ( Curlin – Harve de Grace, by Boston Harbor)

    2. Dear BGG:

      Wow; not fond of her name either. “This Girl Has Wings” suits her better.

      We must have been posting about Curlin’s daughters at the same time. Love and Hugs, JB

      1. PS: Love her Mama too. Love and Hugs, JB

    3. Dear BgG, What a beautiful girl! Do believe you’re right about her ‘wings’. It’s going to be fun to watch her racing. Thanks for posting – with love, Elizabeth

  9. Dear Z Fans:

    This is an article about one of Curlin’s three year old daughters, Curalina (out of Whatdreamsrmadeof). She won the Coaching Club Oaks at Saratoga in a DQ with Johnny V aboard. Wonderful photo of her as you scroll down; what a Beauty. Love and Hugs, JB

  10. @Sandy–I have reviewed my email and cannot find anything from you about the handicapping contest. Could you please send again? Thank you.

  11. Will zenyatta be breed with American pharoa

  12. I have always loved to follow Zenyatta and what is happening in her life,
    Her sons could not be in better hands then with John,does he think that coz will make
    a race horse one day in the future

  13. Hi!

    Where was John Sheriffs raised in New Hampshire?

    Thank you!

    Lise from Maine

  14. I wrote on the blog but now realize that I should have written here.

    I did some reading on Meconium Aspiration Syndrome and I didn’t seem to apply because the labor started at 9 and the colt was delivered at 9:24, so it is hard to imagine the foal being trapped in the birth canal. Is there danger of this with a combined foal’s mature development and a long gestation?

    Both War Front foals seemed to have such wonderful conformation possibilities. Such beautiful examples! So sad . . .

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