The racing career of the Pennsylvania-bred Caravel came to an end after she failed to defend her crown in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last month, but her career as a quality broodmare is just beginning.

Bred by longtime trainer and breeder Elizabeth Merryman and raised on her farm in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Caravel is heading to the breeding shed after a bid of $2.4 million for her at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale was not enough for her owners. So Qatar Racing, Marc Detampel and Madaket Stables retained Caravel and have plans for her to winter at Hunter Valley Farm in Kentucky and be bred to Triple Crown winner Justify.

“The ownership group has very much kept me in the loop and it’s been a lot of fun enjoying her successes,” Merryman said. “I’m so glad that she’s at Hunter Valley because I know the way she has wintered there the last few winters. She’s loved it there.”

Caravel earned $2 million as a 15-time winner, including a Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint win against male horses at Keeneland in 2022 as a 42-1 longshot. The ownership group decided to race her as a 6-year-old this year, and she rewarded them with three more stakes wins, including another Grade 1 victory against the boys at Belmont Park in the Jaipur Stakes.

“Caravel always has been a little bit of a freak of nature,” Merryman said. “She’s incredible. She puts so much into her racing but from day one she had so much personality and talent. She’s a once in a lifetime horse.”

Caravel is the first foal out of Merryman’s broodmare Zeezee Zoomzoom. She acquired the mare sight unseen on the recommendation of friend Kim Brette, a veterinary technician in Florida. Merryman then bred her to Mizzen Mast, a mating intended to amplify her turf breeding.

“She was in foal carrying Caravel when I first saw her,” Merryman said. “Still a very high energy, young very alpha-female type. Quite a handful in the beginning, but after Caravel she settled in very nicely.”

Zeezee Zoomzoom was also set to be sold at the same Keeneland November sale as Caravel, and would have brought bids north of $1 million, but Merryman couldn’t part with her life-changing mare.

“It might not be the best business plan, but it was the right move for me,” Merryman said. “The mare owes me nothing and she is really, really happy where she is. I didn’t want to put her through the stress of shipping somewhere new. I was worried she might not take it that well and it might be really hard on her. I promised her a good life and didn’t want to go back on it.”

The 11-year-old is currently in foal to Justify and has also produced the multiple stakes winner Witty, 2023 winner of the Maryland Million Turf Sprint.

“If she never had another foal, she doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel like I owe her a lot,” Merryman said. “Sometimes in life, not just horse racing, when is enough, enough?”


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Cover Photo Credit to BloodHorse Magazine

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