05/30/2011 7:30PM

Belmont: Tizway best in Met Mile

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Tizway, with Rajiv Maragh riding, wins the Metropolitan Handicap.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Perseverance and loyalty were rewarded in a big way Monday at Belmont Park as the 6-year-old Tizway rolled to a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

It was the first Grade 1 victory for Tizway, who had run in five previous Grade 1 races starting with the 2009 Whitney - in which he was fourth - and including last year's Met Mile, in which he was third to Quality Road.

It was the first Grade 1 victory for trainer James Bond since 2002, when Buddha won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. And it was the first Grade 1 win for owner William Clifton since Behrens won the Gulfstream Park Handicap in 2000. Bond and Clifton have been together for more than two decades and campaigned Behrens as well as Will's Way, the 1996 Travers and 1997 Whitney winner.

Clifton said he purchased Tizway because his dam, Bethany, was a half-sister to Will's Way, who Clifton said "had the biggest heart of any horse I've ever raced."

Not only did Tizway win the Met Mile, he did it in near-stakes-record time. His final time of 1:32.90 was just .09 of a second off Honour and Glory's time of 1:32.81 set in 1996.

"Time only counts when you're in jail, but this horse ran a great race today," Bond said. "I'm awfully, awfully fortunate to have him. Mr. Clifton, he's been together with me for probably almost 20 years or better, it's so great to win with someone as loyal, easy to train for when [who] you give bad news or good news he says, "Son, just keep at it, it's going to come around.' "

Clifton and Bond also showed some loyalty to jockey Rajiv Maragh, with whom they were both upset for his ride in last fall's Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, when Maragh put Tizway onto the pace in a very rapid second quarter. The horse finished fifth that day as the favorite. But they stuck with Maragh, and he rewarded him with a solid ride on Monday.

Breaking from the outside post in the 11-horse field, Maragh had Tizway just outside of the pacesetting Tackleberry, who ran an opening quarter in 23.17 seconds and the half-mile 45.57.

Leaving the three-eighths pole, Tizway stuck a head in front, and when Maragh pressed the button Tizway opened up immediately. He ran six furlongs in 1:08.66 and galloped home his final quarter in 24.24 seconds. Tizway, sent off the 3-1 favorite, returned $8.20 to win.

"My horse is more of a steady kind of horse, and he keeps picking it up gradually, so the race flow suited him pretty good," Maragh said. "We went off decent in the first quarter and we just gradually started to pick it up, and that's running into my horse's running style, because he'll kill you with a high cruising speed."

Rodman rallied from well off the pace to be second, 5 1/2 lengths clear of Caixa Eletroncia who was followed in the order of finish by AIkenite, Haynesfield, Stormy's Majesty, Soaring Empire, Ibboyee, Tackleberry, Yawanna Twist, and Kensei.

The win was the sixth win from 19 career starts for Tizway, who increased his bankroll to $909,274.

The win earned Tizway an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile this November at Churchill Downs. The Breeders' Cup will pick up all pre-entry and entry expenses as well as give his connections a $10,000 travel stipend. Both Bond and Clifton, however, said they may prefer to point Tizway to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic. A Breeders' Cup spokesman said the connections can use the money they would get for the Mile toward the Classic, which has a higher pre-entry and entry fee.

Rodman, also a 6-year-old, was making his third start off the year after missing more than a year because of a foot injury and then a case of colic.

"What a race. He looked so good under the wire, he looked like a fresh horse striding under the wire," said Mike Hushion, who trains Rodman for Barry Schwartz, former chairman of the New York Racing Association. "The orders were just get him in his best stride and take it as it comes. . . . I'm thrilled with his race, but to run a pretty brilliant race like that and be second, what can I tell you?"