Photo: WinStar Farm
“Tiznow wins it for America!”
How appropriate Tom Durkin’s words were as the magnificent Tiznow crossed the wire in front in the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic
(gr. I) at Belmont Park. The
courageous Thoroughbred had captured the same prestigious race in a comparable manner
the previous year at Churchill Downs and under both circumstances, the impressive
Tiznow had denied international superstars victories in his nation.
As spine-tingling as his first victory in the Classic was, it was his second
triumph that truly touched the hearts of Americans. Tiznow defended his title
in New York, the state in which less than two months earlier, a terrorist
attack on the World Trade Center had left our country in mourning. Belmont Park
was just miles from Ground Zero and reminders of what had happened on September
were everywhere, including heightened security – such as snipers on the
grandstand’s roof, police dogs, armed soldiers – and a special opening ceremony
honoring those lost in the attacks. America needed the presence of a true
American champion – an American Thoroughbred that could prove to be a hero on
that autumn day in New York.
The American horses started off strong on the Breeders’ Cup card, but as the
feature race – the Classic – neared, success began to tumble for the U.S.-based
horses. European-based Thoroughbreds had garnered victories in the three races
that preceded the Classic. It seemed it would be the same in the Classic, as the
Europeans had an assembly of three brilliant horses, including not only the
menacing group one winner Galileo, but also the winner of that year’s Prix de
l'Arc de Triomphe (gr. I) – one of the most renowned races in the world – in
Sakhee. It seemed as if Tiznow, entering the Classic of off two losses, had
lost his edge. But Tiznow, the reigning champion of the Classic, was the
fitting horse to play the role of an American hero.
Breaking from the tenth gate of thirteen on the far side of the expansive
track, Tiznow inched closer to the lead under Chris McCarron as the field raced
through the opening stages of the prestigious event. Towering over his rivals,
the large, dark Thoroughbred settled in third as the field entered the
backstretch, galloping approximately two lengths behind the leader. Another two
lengths back was Sakhee. Tiznow remained just off the leaders, comfortable in
his position on the outside. As Albert the Great led through the far turn,
Tiznow edged closer to him, seizing second as the bend began to give way to the
homestretch. To his outside, Sakhee began to creep closer, threatening to
And he did. As the field turned for home, Sakhee held an advantage over Tiznow,
who was in between horses as they arrived at the top of the stretch. Tiznow appeared
doomed; surely he would not carry the blanket of flowers into the winner’s
circle. That honor seemed to belong to Sakhee, the European. It appeared as if
America would be kept from the most important victory of the day.
But the valiant Tiznow dug in, finding more and displaying his utter
determination as he strove to take the lead. Suddenly, he was alongside the Arc winner, stretching out his
neck in tenacity. Against all odds, he surged until his nose was in front,
crossing the wire with a nose advantage to become the sole horse to ever win
the Classic twice. To the roar of the crowd, Tiznow had become an American
hero. The imposing horse had denied the foreign horses another Breeders’ Cup
victory and had shown America that with perseverance, you can overcome all
The end of Tiznow’s career was not the end of his reign. The effect of the
magnificent horse can still be felt in the Thoroughbred racing industry, as
Tiznow is one of the top sires in the nation, having sired twelve grade/group
one winners to date: Bullsbay, Colonel John, Da’ Tara, Folklore, Gemologist, Morning Line, Strong Mandate, Tiz Miz
Sue, Tizway, Tough Tiz’s Sis, and Well Armed, as well as the grade one-winning steeplechaser Mr. Hot Stuff. He has
ranked among the top thirty sires in North America for the past six years,
standing among the top five sires in 2008 and 2009.
Since entering stud in 2002 at WinStar Farm in Kentucky, the Hall of Famer has also found early success as a sire
of sires, yielding the young, successful stallions Colonel John and Tiz Wonderful.
This comes as a slight surprise, as – aside from Tiznow – Cee’s Tizzy (Tiznow’s
sire) has only produced one other notable sire in the established California
stallion Tizbud – a full brother to Tiznow whose progeny include the grade one winner Tiz Flirtatious. However, Tiznow likely does gain an
advantage from his paternal grandsire, Relaunch, who begat the prosperous sires
Honour and Glory and Skywalker. Tiznow is a rather rare sire line descendant of
the great Man O’ War and is the leading sire from this line.
Tiznow’s dam, Cee’s Song, was an incredibly successful broodmare, producing not
only Tiznow, but also the graded stakes winners Budroyale and Tizdubai, the
stakes-winning sire Tizbud, and the stakes-placed C’mon Tiger. But not only was
the daughter of Seattle Song outstanding at producing talented racehorses, but
she also foaled a multitude of notable producers. Those producers include not
only Tiznow and Tizbud, but also Tizso – the dam of the grade one-winning Paynter, the graded stakes-winning Tiz
West, and the stakes-winning Tizakitty – and Tizamazing – the dam of Preakness
Stakes (gr. I) victor Oxbow and the
stakes-winning Awesome Patriot.
In addition to proving to be a terrific sire of talented athletes, Tiznow has
also established himself as a top commercial sire, a title that was further
confirmed with his recent success at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Finishing
the world’s largest yearling auction as the seventh-leading sire by average and
third by total, Tiznow sired the third highest-priced yearling of the sale: hip
446, a half-sister to the champion sprinter and leading sire Speightstown that brought $1,750,000.
His other seven-figure youngster – who sold for $1,700,000 – was hip 855, a
half-sister to 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace.
Before Tiznow began his excellent stud career, his pedigree was off the map. His
success on the racetrack had far outshone his genealogy. As a result of his
understated lineage, much doubt was placed upon his likelihood of becoming a
top-notch sire. But again, Tiznow proved the odds wrong. Regardless of how his
progeny maintain his legacy, between his inspiring racing endeavors and successful
stud career, the striking stallion will forever be fondly remembered by racing
fans as a true American inspiration, champion, and hero.