08/07/2011 11:56AM

Tizway Steps Up

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Tizway Saturday became the first member of the handicap division this year to put together two really major Grade 1 victories, following his sensational score in the Met Mile on Memorial Day with his decisive victory in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga. The handicap division has been so weak and uninspiring, and expectations for this group had been lowered to such a point, that Tizway’s big double puts him in a position that almost feels like the one Spectacular Bid was in when he completed his undefeated 4-year-old campaign, and career, with his walkover in the 1980 Woodward.

Almost, I said. There is, of course, nothing that says another older male can’t pop up with an important Grade 1 double before this season is over, or that Tizway is a lock to win out this year. But in a division that has been saturated in mediocrity, an emphatically completed Met Mile-Whitney double this year feels HUGE, Spectacular Bid-like huge, and makes Tizway a true and legitimate divisional leader.

I liked Tizway quite a bit when he won the Met Mile, but I will admit I leaned against him Saturday because of the nine furlong distance. Tizway had nine opportunities in races beyond a mile in his career before the Whitney. While one of those outings included a tired, soundly beaten third in the 2009 Jockey Club Gold Cup (going 10 furlongs), the only one of those starts beyond a mile that Tizway actually won was a Polytrack race at Woodbine, which just so happened to be his fifth straight attempt in a nine furlong maiden race.

But Tizway sat up close early and certainly handled the distance Saturday, and anyone who would be inclined to give a big assist to the seemingly comfortable pace (24.31, 49.11, and 1:13.85) might be making a mistake. The “easy” pace sure didn’t help the two who volleyed for the early lead, Friend Or Foe and Morning Line, as they wound up a well-beaten fourth, and 11th and last, respectively. The pace also did not assist Tizway’s fellow pace stalkers, the rank Rodman, Mission Impazible, or Rail Trip as they finished eighth, sixth, and seventh, respectively. That Tizway was the only place player who was any sort of factor at the finish only underscores for me just how well he actually ran.

One other point: I thought it was cool that the Met Mile winner and the Suburban winner (Flat Out, who was easily second best) ran one-two in the Whitney. It was a pleasant flashback to the glory days when New York racing was king. It was also welcome at a time when the Breeders’ Cup has coldly turned its back on New York racing. No other racing circuit sacrificed more for the benefit of the Breeders’ Cup at the inception of the event than the NYRA did. While many might not choose to remember, it was New York’s fall races that were the sport’s defining championship events, long before the Breeders’ Cup came along. The one-two finish of the Whitey was a reminder of how important New York racing can still be, no matter what the Breeders’ Cup thinks.

The King of the Derby More than 1 year ago
Who wasn't alittle concerned with Tizway and his prospects at the distance. That being said, I caught him in the Met Mile and wasn't getting off him in the Whitney. I look forward to his JCGCUP and hope he makes a good showing. What I am really looking forward to is a really great BC Classic for a change. It just seems to me that they have really been lackluster the last few years and a lot of streaking horses will make for an interesting Gambling Race
george c More than 1 year ago
First of all, the BC should never consider New York due to the weather. Unless they have it in september, the BC should be in a warm weather state. Secondly, the state of our older horses in this country is a joke. The Whitney was a weak group and the top 3 finishers would not even get top 5 in last years classic.
Dave More than 1 year ago
Tizway will get 1 1/4 miles against this bunch of older horses and no 3 yr old can beat him. Two potential hurdles......a Euro beating him or a sloppy track.
Bochalls More than 1 year ago
The 111 Beyer fig for the Whitney is too high.
Brian Russell More than 1 year ago
Kent Smith - The 2005 Breeder's Cup at Belmont was the coldest day of live racing you have ever experienced? Where do you normally attend the races, Garrison-Savannah? There were days at Gulfstream in 2010 nearly as cold.
Rick Shanley More than 1 year ago
Mike, Got to question your 2 year old filly top ten and not include SAY A NOVENA how have you missed her efforts?? (MW - I haven't missed her efforts.)
JVH More than 1 year ago
Fast and firm Mike! You'd think another state besides California could provide that? The only horse departing from the Whitney with a chance to win the Classic is Giant Oak. Flat Out hates Churchill and Tizway will not get the 1 1/4 distance!
Mark More than 1 year ago
Just a couple comments and a question. First, Tizway. His Met Mile and Whitney wins were spectacular. He appears to have matured into a honest to goodness racehorse. I tried to beat him in the Whitney because I thought the race was front-loaded and gambled things would fall apart late. I didn't see Tizway hanging tough at the end. Wrong. Second, the BC dates awarded to Santa Anita over Belmont. Hey, I would be perfectly happy if Belmont had gotten the 2012 event. But, I'm wondering if the prospect of an off track played any role in the decision? Almost every horseplayer I know hated the BC races being run over the plastic at Santa Anita in the past. The argument always involved the fact that races run on pro-ride put horses from the east at a disadvantage and didn't allow for a true test for horses used to running on dirt. Well, mud kinda does the same thing. An off track takes uniformity of racing surface out of the equation the same way plastic does. In addition, would a wet and possibly dangerous grass course be the best way to decide the numerous championships for grass specialists the BC races card? I don't know, I'm not arguing the case for slamming the importance of New York racing, nor am I saying the decision was fair. I'm simply saying that the chances of fast and firm at Santa Anita are probably better than Belmont. Third, I'm wondering what is going on at Saratoga so far this year. How many races have been won wire-to-wire by horses allowed to grab an easy lead when the PPs indicate a number of horses should be contesting the front end?
ike lee More than 1 year ago
i work with the horses, and my question to you is, "Who in their right mind wants to be running horses in New York in November?" LA is cold enough in November, Kentucky is worse. Del Mar or Florida would be much better. i don't know where the Euros would prefer to run. their horses often come over for the Breeders Cup with long winter coats already grown out. how about considering what is best for the animals and people that actually put the races on? it's sooo easy to sit behind climate controlling glass and make demands. bathing a horse in New York in November? not if i have any say. ike lee.
kent smith More than 1 year ago
First Breeders Cup I attended was Belmont 2005. Coldest day of live racing I've ever experienced Second BC was Santa Anita 2009. Warm beautiful Southern California day Lost money in both places Amazing difference in quality of experience as far as comfort- I paid $$ for both. I sat with many horsemen from around the country who commented- "why don't they hold it here at SA every year?" If the idea is to put on a showcase day of racing, you can't beat Santa Anita at that time of year It has nothing to do with respect for New York.