Amr Zedan Joins the TDN Writers’ Room Podcast

Saudi businessman Amr Zedan has been an owner only since 2017, but in that short period of time he has more than made his mark on the sport. His Medina Spirit (Protonico) crossed the wire first in the 2021 GI Kentucky Derby, his Taiba (Gun Runner) won three Grade I races last year and he has what may be this year’s hottest 3-year-old colt in GIII Southwest S. winner Arabian Knight (Uncle Mo). We found out more about Zedan and his racing operation on this week’s Thoroughbred Daily News Writers’ Room podcast presented by Keeneland. Zedan was the Green Group Guest of the Week.

Zedan doesn’t buy a lot of horses at the sales, but he’s not afraid to pay whatever it takes when his team targets a horse. In the case of Arabian Knight, he was purchased for $2.3 million at the OBS April sale. When he buys a horse, Zedan is thinking Derby.

“Our program is specifically tailor made for the Kentucky Derby,” Zedan said. “So every horse we target isa Kentucky Derby hopeful in our eyes. Obviously, once you’re up there on the podium and carrying the Kentucky Derby trophy, I mean that feeling is difficult to describe. You just want to do it again and again and again. So that’s the plan.”

That philosophy did and did not work with Medina Spirit, a bargain-basement buy at $35,000. He was first across the wire in the Derby but was later disqualified due to a positive for a therapeutic medication. Zedan and trainer Bob Baffert continue to fight the suspension in the courts.

“Look, I won the Derby, right? But I haven’t lost it yet,” Zedan said. “There’s a big yet there. Right now we’re on to the appellate process and we are fully engaged. Let the chips fall where they may. I think we’ve got a great team and I honestly think we have a solid case. Once the facts are objectively reviewed, I think everything will be reinstated. That’s my prerogative. So that’s one. Two, I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. I just never felt any ill feelings or any animosity towards Churchill Downs or towards anyone for that matter. It’s part of the sport.

Taiba was Zedan’s best horse in 2022 and won the GI Santa Anita Derby, the GI Pennsylvania Derby and the GI Malibu S. But that wasn’t enough to land the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male. Though he won just one Grade I race, Epicenter (Not This Time) was named champion. For Zedan, that was a major disappointment.

“I didn’t expect to win the Eclipse award, but I thought we might have a lot more votes than we got,” he said. “I thought we should have had gotten more than the 66 votes we got just to make it a bit of a closer race. I don’t remember a horse that had won three Grade Ones that hasn’t at least gotten more votes or let alone win the Eclipse award. So there is that element of disappointment.”

Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, XBTV West Point Thoroughbreds,  Randy Moss and Bill Finley took a look back at the races run over the weekends that had implications for the Kentucky Derby. Which horse was most impressive? The consensus opinion was Gulfstream allowance winner Tapit Trice (Tapit), whose name, when properly pronounced, may not be what you think. Moss explained why. And has Frankie Dettori found his mount for the Derby in GIII Robert B. Lewis S. winner Newgate (Into Mischief)? Moss and Finley differed on that subject, with Moss explaining why he thinks Dettori will choose to ride on Derby Day in the U.K. in the GI 2000 Guineas Stakes. The show wrapped up with a look at Saturday’s Suncoast S. at Tampa Bay Downs, which features Eclipse Award winner Wonder Wheel (Into Mischief) and the highly regarded Julia Shining (Curlin).

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