12/27/2001 1:00AM

Tiznow's calendar filling up in a hurry


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Tiznow, the two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner now standing at WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky., has attracted more than 200 applications from mare owners.

Duncan Taylor, whose family's Taylor Made Farm manages Tiznow in a partnership with WinStar and Cee's Stable, said Wednesday that Tiznow has been booked to between 75 and 80 mares. Tiznow, a 4-year-old by Cee's Tizzy, will stand in 2002 for a $30,000 stud fee.

"We're being really selective," Taylor said. "There are plenty of mares to choose from."

While Taylor Made and WinStar are busy selecting mares for their newest stallion, the Tiznow promotional machine is gearing up beyond the Bluegrass.

Recently, Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, used Tiznow as inspiration for his team on the art of the courageous comeback - a story that has been widely reported in New England.

Now the Tiznow team has manufactured 100 hats that say "Tiznow: To the Patriot in All of Us," and Lance Bell, who has developed Tiznow's advertising for Taylor Made and WinStar, sent a framed Tiznow poster to Belichick.

Spreading the word - and the funds

The estate of Paul Mellon, who was internationally influential as an owner and breeder of champion Thoroughbreds, is now expanding the Mellon legacy in taking care of retired racehorses.

Early this year, the estate gave a $5 million endowment to America's Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. This month, the estate's trustees gave a $3 million endowment and $500,000 in building funds to the British Horseracing Board's new Rehabilitation for Racehorses fund. Along the way, the Mellon estate's trustees put the TRF and the BHB in contact with each other, and that could expand Mellon's dream - to end slaughter of former racehorses by establishing retirement programs - into other countries.

The trustees are now encouraging TRF president John Stuart and the BHB fund's chairman Andrew Parker Bowles to work together to form an international Thoroughbred retirement league that could bring similar groups together worldwide.

"We've had some interest already from Brazil, Ireland, and Australia," said Stuart, who noted that Australia's first retirement program for racehorses is about to open in Melbourne.

In England, there already are three rehabilitation groups funded in part by the BHB that focus on retraining racehorses for new careers. Now, Cheltenham racecourse has donated 100 acres behind its property to the development of a new farm that will be devoted solely to retired horses. That's where the Mellon trustees decided to place its endowment.

"These are the horses that Paul Mellon was most concerned about: the horses who have nowhere else to go," said TRF co-founder Diana Pikulski.

The Mellon trustees also gave an additional $2 million this year to TRF, bringing the American group's total endowment to $7 million. But there are restrictions on how TRF can use that money.

"The trustees made an exception to their rule in England, in that they gave $500,000 for the BHB fund to use to build a retirement facility at Cheltenham," Stuart explained. "But endowment money can only be used for the care and feeding of the horses, not for operating expenses. They are very specific as to how the money can be used."

That means the TRF, which has received endowment money rather than building money from the Mellon estate, is still heavily reliant on public donations for its operations costs, including the building of new barns and establishing new programs in various states.

While the Mellon trustees are encouraging TRF to think globally, the foundation also has ambitious plans to grow in the United States in 2002.

"Obviously, we will help other people save as many horses as they can in other countries, but we're still working hard to solve the problems here," Pikulski said.

The TRF, which operates facilities in 11 states for about 400 horses, is considering establishing new programs in Delaware, Virginia, and at a women's prison in New Jersey this year.

Stuart and Pikulski said the TRF has two primary goals this year: to find adopters willing to take a retiree or two as "pasture pets" at their farms, and to work with racetracks to establish safety nets that can allow horses to retire sounder. To that end, the TRF is promoting studies regarding safety aspects of properly banked racetrack turns, and making track veterinarians, stewards, and horsemen aware of the TRF option.

Pikulski said that the TRF expects to retire at least another 400 horses this year, and more if facilities allow.

"It takes a tremendous amount of money to do that," said Pikulski. "We're encouraging our donors to help with that, because the endowment money must only be used for care and feeding of the horses."