07/18/2017 1:13PM

Sparkman: Irap helping to grow Tiznow's reputation

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John Engelhardt
The Tiznow colt Irap, winning the Grade 3 Indiana Derby, inherited his sire's size - and at least some of his talent.

WinStar Farm’s advertising slogan for Tiznow, “The big horse sire,” has always struck me as something of a double entendre. It is, of course, meant to highlight Tiznow’s proven ability to sire Grade 1 winners, but is a reminder that Tiznow himself is a very big horse, standing around 17 hands tall, and as a result his offspring tend to be larger than average.

The latest example of Tiznow’s exceptional qualities as a sire was last Saturday’s Grade 3 Indiana Derby winner, Irap, a very large colt who does not yet qualify as another metaphorical “big horse,” but after three graded stakes wins in his last four starts may well be headed for a Grade 1 victory. Irap broke his maiden in his eighth start in the Grade 2 Blue Grass, and his only loss since was in the Kentucky Derby, when he was bumped at the start and never got into the race.

Tiznow himself took a bit of time to come to hand, not racing at 2 and requiring three starts before breaking his maiden at Hollywood Park in May of his sophomore campaign. He followed up immediately with a win in the Grade 2 Affirmed, and after seconds in the Grade 1 Swaps and Grade 1 Pacific Classic, swept the Grade 1 Super Derby, Grade 2 Goodwood, and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic to earn Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male honors. Tiznow developed his own ideas about training and racing as a 4-year-old, but still added the Grade 2 San Fernando, Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, and an emotional second Breeders’ Cup Classic in the aftermath of 9/11/2001 at Belmont Park to his ledger, as well as a champion older male Eclipse.

He was an immediate success at stud, leading the freshman sire list in 2005 when his daughter Folklore (out of Contrive, by Storm Cat) was champion 2-year-old filly. Folklore was the first of Tiznow’s 13 Grade 1 winners, a list that also includes Travers winner Colonel John (Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman), Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed (Well Dressed, by Notebook), and 2016 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tourist (Unbridled Melody, by Unbridled’s Song).

That impressive number of Grade 1 winners is not quite matched by Tiznow’s overall percentage of stakes-winning offspring, which stands at 5.8% (71 stakes winners) of his 1,224 foals age 3 and up. That has worked against him somewhat in the commercial market, along with his tendency to get large horses. Commercial breeders like their yearlings to be big but not too big. Exactly where that line is, of course, is very much in the eye of the beholder.

That prejudice may have worked somewhat against Irap as a yearling at the 2015 Keeneland September sale, when he was listed as a $140,000 buyback for the account of his breeders, Aaron and Marie Jones. Consigned by pinhooker Bobby Dodd to the 2016 OBS March sale, he breezed a furlong in 10.10 seconds impressively enough to attract a $300,000 bid from agent Dennis O’Neill on behalf of Paul Reddam’s Reddam Racing LLC.

Irap’s pedigree offered every encouragement, since he is half-brother to champion sprinter, Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, and outstanding sire Speightstown, by Gone West. Speightstown’s full sister Gone Purrfect is dam of Grade 2 winner Golden Hawk, by Tapit.

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Their dam, Silken Cat, by Storm Cat, was champion 2-year-old filly in Canada in 1995, and is half-sister to stakes winners Juyush, by Silver Hawk, and Meadow Silk, by Meadowlake. Meadow Silk herself is dam of Grade 2 Indiana Derby winner Star Dabbler, by Saint Ballado. Star Dabbler is quite a good sire in South America. Irap’s stakes-winning second dam, Silken Doll, by Chieftain, is also second dam of Grade 1 winner Mani Bhavan, by Storm Boot. Irap’s sixth dam is foundation mare Hildene, dam of champions Hill Prince and First Landing.

If Irap can add a Grade 1 or two to his resume, that pedigree will stand him in good stead when he reaches retirement age. Tiznow has yet to establish himself as a sire of sires, but has several young sons at stud, including Morning Line and Tourist, who may change that perception before Irap is through racing.

Like most of Tiznow’s offspring, Irap is a relative outcross, with three crosses of the ubiquitous Northern Dancer 5x5x4 the only duplications within the first five generations.