Amr F. Zedan has a passion for business and a passion for horses. Being Chairman of The Zedan Group and founder of Zedan Racing Stables has allowed him to pursue both passions successfully.
Born in Los Angeles, California the Zedan family traces its roots back to the Al Madina Al Munawara region, the Western Province of Saudi Arabia.
Zedan takes pride in being able to call Saudi Arabia home while his global racing operations are headquartered in North America
“Obviously, Saudi is my home and Saudi has always been my personal base, both on the professional and personal sides.”
With Zedan racing being at the forefront of top-quality racing globally, the logical next step for the operation would be to expand into breeding.
“Where we're headed right now, we have both mid-term and long-term plans. The medium-term plan is to continue our racing vertical, by hopefully, a campaigning premier, excellent racehorses, colts and fillies, with the hopes that on the colt side, we would eventually produce quality future stallions. So that's our main mid-to-long-term goal. Our longer-term goal would obviously be to probably venture out into more of a breeding operation, but I wouldn't say that this would be something we would actually implement in the next five to ten years from now.
The leading Saudi owner-breeder, further commented on the current position of Zedan Racing founded in 2016, “when speaking of Zedan Racing as a racing operation, I believe that we're just going to stick to what we know best, which is having an exclusive North American base and racing in the US as well as working with the best trainer in history, Bob Baffert. For the time being that's going to be our focus.
Chasing Dreams With Horses
The interest in all sports involving horses has been a long one for Zedan.
“I have always been around horses, either through personal interest or through Polo.
“With my Argentinian polo manager, Rodolfo Ducos we always wanted to try doing something new.
“So we sort of experimented with a racehorse out of Argentina and then that didn't work out the way we planned initially.
“From there we started considering getting involved within the US.
“When the opportunity presented itself to get involved with California Chrome, I thought that would be a great appetizer to the sport and that's how it worked out.
“It's sort of an organic flow from polo, the love of horses into racing, which was the next adventure,” he said.
Zooming In On The Sport Of Kings
As founder of Zedan Racing Stables, he owns part of the great Country Grammer who is now being prepared for his defence of the Dubai World Cup title. The 6YO son of Tonalist has not run anything worse than second for the past two years including back-to-back runner-up placings in the world’s most valuable race, the Saudi Cup.
Zedan said that Country Grammar was a horse who continued to show his mettle during every one of his starts.
“He's the kind of horse that is able to consistently perform year-on-year. Despite bearing harsh circumstances in the form of travelling he is able to maintain his form and keep being able to do so.”
If he was to win another Dubai World Cup title it would place him in the history books as the top American earner in prize money and ahead of Arrogate, quite possibly ahead of Winx given the conversion of Australian dollar. Although this would be a mean feat and even further the talk of him being one of the greats to ever grace a track, Zedan was not ready to speak on it until it occurs.
“I just freshly came out of the Saudi Cup, where we had a lot of expectations. I prefer not to get ahead of ourselves right now.
“But obviously, this is a fact. If he were to perform, God Willing, and win the Dubai World Cup again, he will be the most successful horse on record thus far and we will be very happy with that.”
Raising The Bar In Saudi Arabia
Zedan is the Chairman of the Saudi Polo Federation. His passion for polo stems from being an avid player himself and patron of his own team “Zedan Polo” on the International circuit.
“I was appointed as the Chairman of the Polo Federation with a mandate to introduce, promote, develop and regulate the sport of polo in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I like to use the word ‘reintroduce’ as opposed to ‘introduce’ because Polo was played in the 50s and 60s in Saudi Arabia, and even before that the Arabian Peninsula has been the home of horses, as you know.
Building on his passion for horses, in 2020, he was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors for the Saudi Equestrian Authority. As Zedan said roles and appointments like this meant a lot to him.
“Saudi Arabia has gone through a massive transformation under the leadership of The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, who has been the godfather of Saudi’s Vision 2030, of which sports is an integral part of the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“Here we propel everything that has to do with particular sports’ verticals into 2030 and beyond. Within those verticals come, obviously, equestrian sports and polo.
“We have an ambitious plan that plugs into Vision 2030 which includes building the facilities, laying the groundwork and the infrastructure for young Saudi boys and girls to have at their disposal. They will have the ability to explore and taste, the sport of polo, which is both a sport played on the field and off the field. It's a lifestyle.
“As part of my involvement in the Saudi Polo Federation, I also sit on the board of Saudi Equestrian Authority, which is the Supreme Equestrian Authority, to mandate and regulate the general state of all things equestrian which entails polo, showjumping, dressage, racing through the Jockey Club and even endurance.
“The equestrian authority under the leadership of Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal as the chairman of the Jockey Club, has been doing a tremendous job.”
The Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With The First Step
As the owner of ‘The Zedan Racing Stables, Inc’, his first entry into Thoroughbred racing was as a partner in the international superstar California Chrome, having won the Dubai World Cup and multiple Grade 1’s in the United States.
“That was my entry into racing.
“Again it was the Dubai World Cup, when I first tasted the winner's circle with Chrome, obviously, back then, to me winning a Grade One was an easy, easy task.
“It's just the norm when reality is the exception. So a lot of work that followed there was the tip of the iceberg. I owe a lot to California Chrome for introducing me to the sport.
“More importantly I owe a lot to the Dubai World Cup, and also for actually allowing me to taste the feeling of success, and wanting to just repeat this over and over again, be it in Dubai or in other places as well.”
Having been involved with California Chrome and Country Grammer he also is involved with Taiba currently, as a full owner through Zedan Racing Stables.
“Taiba is a young horse that we bought at auction, he was a promising prospect.
“The way that we operate is we work exclusively with Bob Baffert. We were at the sales together with our agents, and bloodstock advisors and at the end of the day we made a decision.
“He liked the way Taiba presented himself at the breeze-up sale and we decided to pursue the opportunity. We were luckily the highest bidder and won the horse.
“Obviously that's just a piece of the puzzle. The main element of any horse’s success is basically listening to the horse's condition.
A Partnership Delivered
“I think Bob Baffert has demonstrated to be a master of that. At the same time being able to assess how fast or how slow the horse wants us to proceed with him or her and being able to build the foundation necessary for the horse to carry on, is crucial.
“Taiba has proven that he is a great horse during his 3YO campaign last year when he won three Grade ones.
“He was the only horse in a long time to jump from a six-furlong maiden to a two-turn Grade One immediately, that's unheard of.
“He managed to pull it off and that's an accomplishment.
“He is a super horse and we look forward to campaigning the remainder of the year with him. Unfortunately, Saudi was a bit too fast for him. It was too soon for him, and he didn't travel that well.
“So we will strike out this race and focus on campaigning him during the rest of the year.
At the time of the interview, Taiba was on his way back to the US from Riyadh.