Ahmed Zayat

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Ahmed Zayat
Occupation Industrialist and horse breeder
Born (1962-08-31) August 31, 1962 (age 52)
Cairo, Egypt
Major racing wins
Kentucky Derby (2015)
Won the Grade I Arkansas Derby (2012)
Haskell Invitational (2012)
Wood Memorial Stakes (2010)
Ballerina Stakes (2010)
Frizette Stakes (2010)
Norfolk Stakes (2010)
Fountain of Youth Stakes (2010)
Pilgrim Stakes (2009)
Triple Bend Invitational Handicap (2009)
Bing Crosby Handicap (2009)
Pat O'Brien Handicap (2009)
CashCall Futurity (2008)
Robert B. Lewis Stakes (2009)
San Felipe Stakes (2009)
Santa Anita Derby (2009)
Shoemaker Mile (2009)
Shadwell Turf Mile (2008)
Del Mar Debutante (2006)
La Brea Stakes (2006)
Significant horses
Pioneerof the Nile, Eskendereya, Zensational, Nehro, Z Fortune, Z Humor, Bodemeister, Paynter, American Pharoah

Ahmed Zayat was born on August 31, 1962, in Cairo, Egypt. At the age of 18, he moved from Egypt to the United States. He got his Master's degrees in business and public health from Boston University. He currently lives in Teaneck, New Jersey with his wife Joanne and his four children, Ashley, Justin, Benjamin and Emma, and has residences in New York, Egypt and London.[1] He currently serves as the CEO of Zayat Stables, LLC, a thoroughbred horse racing company with stables all over the country.

Early career[edit]

Ahmed headed Al Ahram Beverages, which was a privatized Egyptian beverage company. He later led its sale to Heineken International. In addition to the beverage industry, he is involved in other industries, as well as the largest shareholder in the largest manufacturer of glass containers in Egypt, Misr Glass Manufacturing.[citation needed]

Thoroughbred horse racing[edit]

Ahmed Zayat was introduced to race horses in his early teens while competing in national show jumping events in his native Egypt. He has been passionate about horses and the sport of horse racing ever since. Zayat first entered Thoroughbred racing in 2005, and has been a major force on the racetrack and in the sales ring ever since. Six times Zayat Stables LLC has ranked among North America's Top five owners; Zayat was North America's Leading Owner in 2008. Three times since 2008, Zayat has raced the Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up; in 2012, stable runners ran second in all three legs of the Triple Crown, the Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

Few have experienced the highs and lows of the sport of horse racing the way Ahmed Zayat has. In 2010, Zayat campaigned Eskendereya, runaway winner of the Wood Memorial (G1) and considered by many to be the heavy favorite for the Kentucky Derby. On the Sunday prior to the Derby, Eskendereya was withdrawn from the race and subsequently retired to stud due to a leg injury. In 2012, Bodemeister, who many believe was the class of the three-year-old crop, finished a narrow second place in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. His top colt Paynter developed near-fatal complications from colitis after winning the $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational (G1). This colt would go on to win the NTRA Moment of the Year Award and Secretariat Vox Populi Award before returning to the races in June 2013. Conversely in 2013, Zayat's 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Nehro died of colic en route to the hospital. Horses sporting Zayat's distinct blue and gold silks spattered with Z's are led by 14 Breeders' Cup contenders, 11 Grade 1 winners, and five Eclipse Award finalists. These include: 2013 Breeders' Cup hopeful and 2012 Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Paynter; 2013 Breeders' Cup Hopeful Fast Bullet (G2); 2012 Arkansas Derby (G1) winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister; 2009 Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner and red-hot young sire Pioneerof the Nile; 2009 triple Grade 1 winner Zensational;2009 Shoemaker Mile (G1) winner Thorn Song; 2010 Norfolk S. (G1) winner Jaycito; 2010 Frizette (G1) winner A Z Warrior; 2010 Ballerina S. (G1) winner Rightly So; Grade 1 winner and 2007 Keeneland January Sale Topper Point Ashley.

Breeding/Racing Operation[edit]

Zayat Stables has approximately 200 horses, most of which are in training spread among such trainers as Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen, Tony Dutrow, Mike Mitchell, Reade Baker, and Scott Lake. They were the seventh leading buyer at the 2010 Keeneland September yearling sale, having spent $2,655,000 for 14 yearlings. The original focus of Zayat's operation was to develop racing and breeding prospects, with long-range plans to acquire companies involved in equine health research and product development as well as the possibility of racetrack ownership. Despite the bankruptcy troubles, Zayat maintains the focus of his operation has not changed. “While Chapter 11 was a necessary step to take, Zayat Stables has emerged stronger and we are excited about building on our many recent successes in the racing industry,” he said. “I look forward to carrying out our reorganization plan, and continuing to develop some of the best horses in the country.” [2] Ahmed made splashy, big-ticket purchases starting in 2005, including Maimonides, a $4.6 million Keeneland September yearling, by the late Vindication, who is a half-brother to Grade 1 winners El Corredor and Roman Ruler. In addition, Ahmed purchased the sale topper at the 2006 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, a filly by Empire Maker, for $1,600,000, named Mushka. Zayat Stables keeps about 20 broodmares in Kentucky.

In 2009, Zayat's homebred Pioneerof the Nile started a streak of Zayat horses finishing second in the Kentucky Derby, and other classic races when the colt was defeated by Mine That Bird. In 2010, Zayat's pre-race favorite Eskendereya was withdrawn from the Derby six days before the race with a leg injury.

In 2011, Zayat had a horse in the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby. The horse, Nehro, was originally at the 19 post, but since one of the favorites, Uncle Mo, dropped out a few days before the race, Nehro moved to post 18.[3] He opened 6-1 odds and had 8-1 final odds, only behind Dialed In (4-1 open; 5-1 final). Nehro finished in second place, behind Animal Kingdom, who came up on the outside, passing 3 horses in the last stretch, to win by 2 34 lengths. For the 138th running in 2012, Zayat Stables' Bodemeister set fractions of :45 1/5 and 1:09 4/5 before finishing second to I'll Have Another. Bodemeister would also lose the Preakness by a neck to the same horse. Then running Paynter for the Belmont Stakes, who also finished second to Union Rags. He owned the horse American Pharoah that won the 2015 Kentucky Derby.


  1. ^ Drape, Joe. "As a Derby Favorite Soars, His Owner Stumbles", The New York Times, February 26, 2010. Accessed May 9, 2011. "'They lied to me and put me close to financial ruin,' said Zayat, who lives in Teaneck, N.J. 'I’m trying to reorganize until the market corrects itself, and they are trying to put me out of business. But I’m not going to go away.'"
  2. ^ "Zayat Stables Emerges from Bankruptcy with promise to pay 100%". Bloomberg. 16 July 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  3. ^ MH63 "Uncle Mo scratched from the Kentucky Derby", Miami Herald, May 6, 2011