08/06/2011 6:12PM

Saratoga: Tizway gets perfect trip to dominate Whitney Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Tizway and Rajiv Maragh pull away in deep stretch of the Whitney.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In a year when it has been difficult to find male horses who have won multiple major stakes, Tizway staked his claim as being the best older male horse in the country – and a strong contender for Horse of the Year – with an emphatic, three-length victory Saturday in the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap before 34,412 at Saratoga.

The win came a little more than two months since Tizway won the Met Mile by 2 3/4 lengths. In both cases, there was no doubt about the result. And whatever doubt there was about Tizway handling 1 1/8 miles was erased in the Whitney.

“For once, a trainer was right,” James Bond, who trains Tizway, cracked in the winner’s circle.

Tizway ($10.20), the tepid favorite in a what was perceived as a wide-open field of 11, took the lead entering the stretch and widened his margin in the final furlong, completing nine furlongs on a fast but dull main track in 1:52.43.

Flat Out, winner of the Suburban Handicap in his last start, rallied for second, two lengths in front of Giant Oak, who nosed out Friend Or Foe for third.

Tizway’s victory also provided an immediate return on investment for Spendthrift Farm, which on Saturday completed negotiations to stand Tizway when he retires to stud.

“He’s going to Spendthrift,” B. Wayne Hughes, who owns the farm, said in the winner’s circle. “We bought him.”

Tizway, by two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, has now won 7 times in 20 starts, and the $450,000 winner’s share of the Whitney was nearly 50 percent of what he had earned in his 19 previous starts combined. His ascension this year is a tribute to the patience Bond and owner William Clifton Jr. displayed with a horse who has raced just eight times since going to the Japan Cup Dirt in December 2009.

Tizway got a perfect trip in the Whitney under regular rider Rajiv Maragh. He settled into third, in the clear, as Friend Or Foe and Morning Line set pedestrian fractions of 24.31 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 49.11 for a half-mile.

“It was an ideal trip,” Maragh said. “I was always close to the pace, where I wanted to be. I just trusted the horse that he could get the distance.”

“Rajiv rode him just tremendous,” Bond said. “He’s a fast horse, he’s a miler, and now he’s shown us he can make two turns and carry it on. There’s one more big hurdle, and that’s 1 1/4 miles.”

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Both Bond and Clifton said the Jockey Club Gold Cup, at 1 1/4 miles on Oct. 1 at Belmont Park, would be next. By virtue of his win in the Met Mile, Tizway earned an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile through the Win and You’re In program. The Whitney offered an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. The Gold Cup will determine the Breeders’ Cup race in which he runs.

“He’ll run in the Gold Cup, and if he performs in that like he did today, we’ll point for the Classic,” Clifton said.


WATCH REPLAY: 2011 Whitney Handicap