04/25/2014 3:41PM

Sparkman: Dynamic Impact blossoming for Tiznow

Four Footed Fotos
Illinois Derby winner Dynamic Impact (outside) is blossoming for sire Tiznow.

Among the many nuggets of perceived wisdom about Thoroughbred breeding is that to be a really good sire, the horse must have been precocious enough to be a good 2-year-old. Precocity certainly remains a desirable quality in a stallion prospect – although, 2-year-old racing is far less important and extensive than it once was, perhaps less so than at any time in American Thoroughbred history.

The bottom line, though, is that if a stallion is a good enough racehorse with a good enough pedigree, whether or not he was a good juvenile is a relatively unimportant consideration. Perhaps the most recent case in point is Tiznow, who never raced at 2 but remains the only two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is about as good an indicator of superior racing class as we have in North America.

Tiznow immediately proved he could sire precocious 2-year-olds when his first-crop daughter Folklore received the Eclipse Award as champion juvenile filly, but it is true that his offspring generally do not reach their best form until their 3-year-old seasons. The most recent exemplar of that truism is Dynamic Impact, who upset favored Midnight Hawk in the Grade 3 Illinois Derby on April 19. Dynamic Impact placed once in three starts last year at 2, but has blossomed this year with victories in the most recent two of his three starts of 2014.

Bred by the late Cecilia Straub-Rubens and raced in partnership with longtime associate Michael Cooper, Tiznow was big and immature at 2 and suffered a minor stress fracture. He did not make his first start at 3 until April 22 at Santa Anita, only two weeks before the 2000 Kentucky Derby. Third over the inadequate distance of six furlongs, he improved to finish second in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Hollywood Park about three weeks later.

Tiznow won his third start over the same track and distance on May 31, 2000, leading most of the way to beat maidens by 8 1/2 lengths. As impressive as that was, few expected him to beat eventual Grade 1 winner Dixie Union in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes in only his fourth career start. Showing the courage and determination that was to become his trademark, Tiznow bulled his way between horses in the stretch and outgamed Dixie Union to the wire to win by a neck.

Dixie Union had carried 11 pounds more than Tiznow in the Affirmed, however, and Tiznow was not quite ready to beat top 3-year-olds at more uniform weights, going down to defeat in his next start to Captain Steve by 2 1/2 lengths while receiving two pounds in the Grade 1 Swaps Stakes. A month later, Tiznow faced year-older Skimming, who was something of a Del Mar specialist, in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic Stakes. Tiznow followed Skimming around the oval at a respectful distance, finishing second, two lengths behind, at weight-for-age.

Tiznow was clearly a good horse and still improving, but his next three starts were a revelation. Shipped to Louisiana Downs for the Grade 1 Super Derby, he went right to the lead and set metronomic fractions before drawing away to a six-length victory over Belmont Stakes winner Commendable.

Despite his classic win, few people considered Commendable a genuine top 3-year-old that year, but there was no arguing that Tiznow belonged with the best after he turned the tables on Captain Steve by a half-length in the Grade 2 Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap at the Oak Tree meeting, holding off that rival’s persistent challenge by a half-length.

Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus was all the rage at 6-5 odds for the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic, but it was Tiznow who took on pacesetter Albert the Great, dueling that talented stayer into defeat by the quarter pole. From that point home it was eventual European Horse of the Year Giant’s Causeway instead of Fusaichi Pegasus who rallied to challenge, but Tiznow once again hung on doggedly to win by a neck.

Those three late-season wins were enough to earn Tiznow champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year honors. Kept in training for a second season of racing, his 4-year-old year began well enough with a comfortable 1 1/4-length victory over Walkeslikeaduck in the Grade 2 San Fernando Breeders’ Cup Stakes, but he started poorly and could never catch Wooden Phone when finishing second by two lengths in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes, giving the winner six pounds.

That defeat was easily forgiven after Tiznow carried top weight of 122 pounds to a five-length victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, and the horse – now owned by a partnership comprising Cooper and the children of Straub-Rubens, who died shortly after the 2000 Breeders’ Cup – was given the summer off to prepare to defend his Classic crown. His chances of doing so did not look at all good after he finished third in both the Woodward Stakes and the Goodwood. 

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tiznow’s second victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was one of the most emotionally fulfilling events in the history of the American turf. Albert the Great set the pace once again, but was a much tougher nut this time, and at the top of the stretch Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee surged by the battling leaders to stick his head in front. Showing all his old determination, Tiznow battled back to prevail by a nose in a thrilling finish.

Tiznow retired to WinStar Farm in 2002 with the wholly admirable record of eight wins, four seconds, and two thirds in 15 starts and earnings of $6,427,830. His pedigree, while hardly fashionable, was also undeniably high class.

His sire, Cee’s Tizzy, by Relaunch, had shown both speed and unsoundness in a brief racing career, highlighted by a third in the 1990 Super Derby. From very limited opportunity he had also sired champion older female Gourmet Girl, but he was no one’s idea of a sire of sires.
Tiznow’s dam, Cee’s Song, by Seattle Song, however, had already produced Tiznow’s older full brother, the talented gelding Budroyale, who won five graded stakes and finished second in the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Classic. A few years later, Tiznow’s full sister Tizdubai won the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes, and another full brother, Tizbud, captured the California Cup Classic.

Tiznow’s pedigree has continued to improve in the decade-plus since his retirement. His full sisters Tizamazing and Tizso have produced 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow and 2012 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner Paynter, respectively, both by Awesome Again. Tiznow quickly put to rest doubts about his ability to sire good 2-year-olds when Folklore (out of Contrive, by Storm Cat) won the Grade 1 Matron and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on her way to a juvenile championship. Understandably, though, Tiznow’s forte is producing bigger, later-maturing horses who make their major impact at 3 and up – horses very much like Dynamic Impact.

The first foal to live out of stakes winner Featherbed, by Smart Strike, Dynamic Impact has come to hand quickly this year after showing promise in his three starts last year. His performance in the Illinois Derby was eerily similar to his sire’s typical style. Dynamic Impact stalked pacesetter Midnight Hawk through the first six furlongs at Hawthorne, but appeared to be beaten when that foe started to get away from him on the turn. Switched to the outside in the stretch, Dynamic Impact showed the utmost gameness in wearing down Midnight Hawk and dropping his nose first on the wire.

Interestingly, Featherbed is from the same family as Albert the Great, the horse Tiznow stalked on his way to two Breeders’ Cup Classic wins. Featherbed is a half-sister to two stakes-placed horses out of an unraced half-sister to stakes-placed Bright Feather, by Fappiano, dam of Albert the Great, and three other stakes winners. The female line traces to Dynamic Impact’s sixth dam, foundation mare Secret Meeting, by Alibhai, ancestress of champions, classic winners, and/or Grade/Group 1 winners Sensational, Long Look, Congaree, Les Arcs, Desert Wine, Menifee, Fasliyev, and Misty For Me, among many others.

Dynamic Impact is the sixth stakes winner and fourth graded stakes winner sired by Tiznow who is inbred to Seattle Slew. Tiznow’s broodmare sire, Seattle Song, was a Grade 1 winner by Seattle Slew, as is Capote, sire of Dynamic Impact’s second dam, giving the Illinois Derby winner a 4x4 duplication of the 1977 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year.

Dynamic Impact is Tiznow’s 49th stakes winner from 922 foals age 3 and up through April 21, a 5.3 percent strike rate that is undeniably lower than one would like to see in a top-class sire, even in the big-book era that has so diluted sire statistics. But when the Tiznows are good, they tend to be very, very good. His 26 graded/group stakes winners include 11 Grade/Group 1 winners, including 2009 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed (Well Dressed, by Notebook), 2008 Travers and Santa Anita Derby winner Colonel John (Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman), and 2013 Hopeful winner Strong Mandate (Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister).

Time will tell whether Dynamic Impact will reach that level, but once a 3-year-old by Tiznow begins to mature, the sky is the limit.