10/04/2013 12:57PM

Hot Sire: Tiz Wonderful


Joy Gilbert photo courtesy Spendthrift FarmTiz Wonderful

The 2-year-old male division ramped into high gear last week, as Belmont and Santa Anita held the first of their major juvenile stakes of the fall season. In the six-furlong, Grade 2 Futurity Stakes in New York, In Trouble rolled to a 2 1/4-length win over Corfu and earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure, the best for a juvenile male in a stakes race this year through Monday.

In Trouble, a Kentucky-bred bay owned by Team D Stable and trained by Tony Dutrow, improved to 2 for 2 in his young career, following a three-quarter-length score in his debut Aug. 10 at Saratoga. He is the second graded stakes winner for his young sire, multiple graded stakes winner and Spendthrift Farm stallion Tiz Wonderful. Sire and son alike displayed professionalism as juveniles, and it remains to be seen whether In Trouble can take the next steps in his development, unlike Tiz Wonderful during his short career.

Tiz Wonderful, a son of Horse of the Year Tiznow out of the winning Hennessy mare Evil, was bred in Kentucky by Dale Kalmar and twice sold for six figures before hitting the racetrack. He was bought as a Keeneland September yearling in 2005 for $200,000 by Don Mattox and then secured by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables in 2006 for $475,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training.

It might be hard to recall now, but in 2006, Tiz Wonderful burst out of a typically crowded group of Saratoga maidens to win two consecutive graded stakes at Churchill Downs and become one of the most highly regarded members of what would become arguably the best crop of North American dirt racehorses over the past 10 years.

Even following Street Sense’s brilliant win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the same venue, Tiz Wonderful’s unblemished record helped him accrue his fair share of backers over the winter as a potential Kentucky Derby winner for 2007. The colt had romped by 12 1/2 lengths in his debut at the Spa for Steve Asmussen, earning a 99 Beyer Speed Figure, and then handled two steps up in class and distance with aplomb in the Grade 3, one-mile Iroquois Stakes and the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes during Churchill’s fall meet.

Tiz Wonderful’s female family was solid enough, with a handful of graded stakes winners through his first three generations, and Tiznow was at that time just starting to make a name for himself as a sire of athletic and long-winded runners. But more than anything, it was the horse’s talent on the racetrack that set expectations high for Stonestreet heading into Kentucky Derby season. Unfortunately, Tiz Wonderful sustained a tendon injury while training at Fair Grounds in January and missed the Triple Crown series.

By the time Tiz Wonderful resurfaced in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy during the summer of 2007, Jackson’s Curlin had won the Preakness and placed in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Tiz Wonderful could only manage a sixth-place finish in the Jim Dandy, which was won by Derby winner Street Sense.

Tiz Wonderful made one final start and finished second in the one-mile More Than Ready Stakes at Belmont in September but was vanned off with a life-threatening injury to his right hind leg and was sent to the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania for treatment.

Tiz Wonderful entered stud at B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift in Lexington in 2009 along with Grade 1 winner, Into Mischief. Into Mischief, who stood for a $20,000 stud fee in 2013, grabbed headlines at the beginning of this year when his sons Goldencents and Vyjack emerged as early Kentucky Derby contenders.

Tiz Wonderful’s first graded stakes winner, on the other hand, was the filly My Happy Face, who won the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes last year at Aqueduct and came within a head of capturing the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont. This year, My Happy Face took the listed Lotka Stakes at Belmont Park and placed in both the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and the Test Stakes (the latter a close third after a wide trip) at Saratoga over the summer.

In Trouble has a decent chance to compete at longer distances as he continues to mature. His dam, the Grand Slam mare Ballpark Butterfly, only won once in three career starts, and that at 5 1/2 furlongs, but his second dam, multiple stakes winner and $300,000-earner Miss Lady Bug, by Rough Pearl, was a gritty, durable turf performer in California during the 1990s who did her best running on turf at distances up to 1 1/2 miles.

Delving deeper into the distaff family, one finds such disparate but talented relatives as recent standout steeplechase horse Tax Ruling, multiple Grade 1 winner Finder’s Fee, Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing Spree, Brooklyn Handicap winner The Liberal Member, and champion Lady Pitt.]

As of Wednesday, Tiz Wonderful ranked seventh on the North American second-crop sire list, two places behind Into Mischief. Based on his $12,500 stud fee, he was one of the best bargains of the 2013 breeding season.

Tiz Wonderful has 13 Northern Hemisphere winners so far this year from his 2011 crop and, aside from In Trouble, is represented by the up-and-coming filly Georgia, who finished second in her debut at Del Mar before breaking her maiden impressively in a one-mile dirt event at Santa Anita on Sept. 27.

Georgia, owned by Peachtree Stable and trained by Bob Baffert, is from the family of Grade 3 winner and track record-setter Jungle Prince.