01/05/2012 3:04PM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Tizway

Barbara Livingston

Tizway’s 2011 campaign made him a strong candidate to be a finalist for an Older Male Eclipse Award – emphasis on older.

At an age when most horses have either moved into post-racing life or have settled into a claiming-race existence, Tizway was just finding his best stride. The 6-year-old was one of the few horses in a lean 2011 season to win more than one Grade 1 race, and his Grade 1 double – the Met Mile and the Whitney – had historical resonance. Only seven other horses have won both races in one season, the last Secretariat.

Tizway was anything but precocious. It took him six starts and eight months to win a maiden race back in late 2007 and early 2008, and it wasn’t until the Metropolitan Handicap on May 30 that Tizway won a Grade 1.

[MORE: Complete list of 2011 Eclipse Awards finalists | Vote for Horse of the Year and win]

But if dry spells have marked Tizway’s career, the horse’s trainer, James Bond, knows something about that. Many a prominent East Coast racehorse trained under Bond’s “007” saddle towels during the second part of the 1990s and into the early 2000s. In 1999 alone, Bond won eight graded stakes. He won the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, his home track, with Will’s Way. But between 2003 and 2009, his stable sent 43 starters into graded stakes and came away with just three wins. Until the Met Mile, it had been nine years since Bond had won a Grade 1.

Tizway’s Eclipse credentials rest wholly on the two races he won in a mere four-start campaign. His Met Mile victory was decisive, a 2 3/4-lengths win in 1:32.90, only 9-hundredths of a second slower than Honour and Glory’s stakes record from 1996. So, too, was his Whitney, a three-length tally over Flat Out, who would come back to impressively capture the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont.

The two victories, it can be argued, were greater than the sum of their parts. The Met Mile is the classic miler’s test, demanding speed to keep up with a sprint pace in a one-turn race (which Tizway did, willingly) and sustain that pace through a middle distance. The Whitney, around two turns at Saratoga, requires tractability and stamina, and Tizway harbored those characteristics, too. Consider that in the Met Mile Tizway pressed a half-mile split of 45 seconds and change while in the Whitney he waited patiently in third through a half-mile in about 49 seconds.

Bond called Tizway, a son of Tiznow–Bethany who was bred by Whisper Hill Farm and owned by William Clifton, the best horse he had ever trained, surpassing Will’s Way with his Whitney triumph. That race and the Met Mile, the trainer said, gave him goosebumps.

His two losses were third-place finishes behind Soaring Empire and Tackleberry in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap and behind Duke of Mischief and fellow Eclipse finalist Game on Dude in the $1 million Charles Town Classic.

Autumn was supposed to afford Tizway a chance to stretch his speed over one and one-quarter miles, but the chance never came. A fever kept Tizway out of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and in October a ligament injury was diagnosed. Tizway was finished racing and off to stud at Spendthrift Farm.

Date Track Race Finish Chart Distance Time Beyers Video
8/6/11 SAR Whitney 1st 1 1/8 mile 1:52.40 111 Video
5/30/11 BEL Metropolitan Handicap 1st 1 mile 1:32.80 113 Video
4/16/11 CT Charles Town Classic 3rd 1 1/8 mile 1:51.00 99 Video
3/12/11 GP Gulfstream Handicap 3rd 1 mile 1:35.20 102 Video


Breeder: Whisper Hill Farm 
Trainer: H. James Bond
Owner: William L. Clifton, Jr.
Record: 20-7-1-5
Best Beyer: 113