Bred by Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley operation, Imperia sports the royal blue colors of Godolphin.
The Kentucky-bred is a thoroughgoing homebred, being by Darley sire Medaglia d’Oro, a $5.7 million-earner on the track, and out of past Godolphin star Cocoa Beach. A millionaire herself, Cocoa Beach was Horse of the Year in her native Chile before venturing to Dubai, where she turned the U.A.E. One Thousand Guineas/Oaks double. She went on to success in the United States, with wins in the Beldame (G1) in the slop and the Matriarch (G1) on turf, and a second to Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) on Santa Anita’s old synthetic track.
Imperia appears to have inherited his dam’s versatility regarding surface. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee began his career on turf, breaking his maiden in the Pilgrim (G3) after a near-miss on debut at Saratoga. He lost all chance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) when steadied in traffic on the rail, and his 10th-place finish is thereby a total toss-out.
Switched to dirt for the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, Imperia turned in his trademark late rally, only to come up just a head short of El Kabeir. He disappointed next time when fifth as the 3-2 favorite in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. Entered in the Spiral S. (G3) at Turfway, he was scratched from what would have been his first start on a synthetic surface.