It took a little longer than expected, but Stay Thirsty is finally starting to fulfill the great potential he showed as a juvenile. During the spring of this year Stay Thirsty ran with only one win to his credit and that was the Gotham Stakes, over what many believe to be a weaker field. He then ran dismally in the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. Because of those performances he was overlooked in the Belmont Stakes and even after a strong second in that race, many still refused to give him even a slight chance in the Jim Dandy. Well, not only did he prove his doubters wrong, he left them with their jaws hanging open, as he moved away to win by a commanding four lengths.
Since then he won the prestigious Travers Stakes and is now being pointed the Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he will get to dance in the ring with leading older male Tizway. From my point of view Stay Thirsty has the advantage coming into the race. His sire Bernardini is one of the hottest commodities around and is one of the many sires who carries the blood of the great AP Indy. With that kind of breeding Stay Thirsty is bred run as far as the day is long. He has already competed successfully over the 10 furlong distance, where Tizway has not.
Another point to consider is Stay Thirst is bred to get better as he gets older. In the past few months he has grown and blossomed into quite the handsome stud. He’s put on muscle and matured a great deal mentally. Ever since the Belmont Stakes he has been on the improve and he does not seem like he is going to regress any time soon.
Stay Thirsty also may have a fitness edge over his older rival. Two of his last three races were over nine furlongs, one was 12! He has run twice over the deep and tiring Saratoga oval, once in the Jim Dandy and again in the Travers. The Travers he was quite close to the lead through the entire race and still had enough to hold off Rattlesnake Bridge. Tizway, in his last two races, has run a mile and nine furlongs. His time for the Whitney Stakes was a sloth-like 1.52 and change. This would not only raise the question of if he is fit enough to run 10 furlongs, but if he even wants it at all.
Lastly one only needs to glance Stay Thirsty’s record in New York to see just how much he thrives there. Out of seven starts in the state of New York Stay Thirsty has a record of four wins and three seconds. In seven starts he has never finished worse than second that says something. Tizway, while a reliable New York horse as well, has finished lower than the top two, and has even run worse than the top three.
As you can see, while Tizway is a very formidable opponent, his younger counterpart seems to have all of the advantages here. He will be getting weight, he is on the improve, relishes the track and the distance, and is one dead fit horse. In the Gold Cup it will be Stay Thirsty all the way.
Stay Thirsty has progressed as well as you can hope any promising young horse to progress in the summer of his sophomore season. He was always good, but with his two races at Saratoga, he has taken things up a notch to the point where I have no trouble in calling him the most accomplished horse of his age. Therein lies the catch, he may now well be the best of his age, but he has a whole new challenge in front of him when he faces older horses for the first time. Tizway is six-years-old and has been around the block more than a few times. Under the patient care of trainer James Bond, he has improved every single year, and now he is a physically mature horse who has never been better.
Stay Thirsty is just fine at ten furlongs. I will agree with you there, but I have no reason to believe Tizway won’t handle America’s classic distance either. Let’s take a look at the facts, first of all horses generally can handle the extended distances better as they mature. Tizway has that in his favor. Next, in looking at his form, the only time he ever attempted the distance was in the JCGC two years ago. That day he finished a solid 3rd as a 23-1 shot. It seems like he took to 10 furlongs that day, and now he is a much better horse than he was 24 months ago. And since you mentioned breeding … a son of Tiznow going 1 ¼ miles? Yes, please!
Stay Thirsty is on the improve, no doubt, but have you seen Tizway run lately? He turned solid fields in the Grade 1 Met Mile, and the Grade 1 Whitney, into non-competitive strolls in the park. By the way those were solid fields of older horses he was dismantling.
Do you really want to bring up the time of the Whitney? The track was ridiculously slow that day … the time means nothing. What is important is that while Stay Thirsty was keeping Rattlesnake Bridge at bay in the Travers, Tizway was doing the same to Flat Out. I’m sorry, but I think Flat Out would eat Rattlesnake for lunch if those two meet anytime soon. Keep in mind that Tizway is the same horse that scorched the Belmont earth this year to the tune of a 1:32 and change mile. Clearly, he is no stranger to running very fast. I’m not sure that Stay Thirsty can say the same.
Stay Thirsty has a good record in New York for sure, but this race is not at Saratoga, nor Yankee Stadium for that matter, it is at Belmont Park. While Stay Thirsty has run well at Big Sandy, he is winless in two starts. Meanwhile, this is the favorite track of Tizway. He has never finished out of the money at Belmont, and it is the site of three of his most impressive wins.
Sorry Laura, I know you have liked Stay Thirsty for a long time, but he is in for a rude awakening if he thinks he can do to the older boys what he has been doing against this weak three-year-old crop. Year in and year out, older horse have the advantage against their younger foes, just ask Lookin At Lucky. Tizway will teach Stay Thirsty a few things when they meet up on Super Saturday, and much like this debate, it will be age before beauty.