Machiavellian was bred in the United States by the Niarchos family and transferred to France to be trained by Francois Boutin.
He wasted little time in opening his Black type account, winning the Listed Prix Yacowlef by two lengths on his racecourse debut. This was remarkable enough, but just 17 days later, he took a huge leap up in class when lining up in the G1 Prix Morny. Ridden by Freddie Head, he once again prevailed by two lengths.
Stepped up to seven furlongs for his next start in the G1 Prix de la Salamandre, Machiavellian cemented his position as Champion French two-year-old and recorded his third straight Stakes win in the process.
His best performance at three was a second in the 2,000 Guineas and at the end of 1990, he was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed and retired to Dalham Hall Stud, where he began what was to become a remarkable stud career.