I just returned from a tour at WinStar Farm, and I can still feel grainy bits of Polytrack from their new training track between my toes. It’s been a good day.
I’m currently working on a piece on WinStar for our Breeders’ Cup magazine, and I realized that I had never ventured out to the gorgeous Versailles, Ky. operation off Pisgah Pike, nor seen the mighty Tiznow in person. Now I can say I’ve done both.
While majority of the facilities at WinStar are just five years old, they all have a historical vibe, with dark wood accents and expansive corridors. The main office also has a twinge of Texas flare in the décor—like its mesquite wood doors--as both the farm’s owners—Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt hail from the Lone Star State.
Not surprisingly, the highlight of my private tour, which was enthusiastically conducted by WinStar’s bloodstock assistant Amy Nave, was meeting Tiznow. Prior to entering the stallion barn, Amy played the videos of Tiznow’s incredible back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) victories in 2000 and 2001. Even though I’ve seen replays of the races before, viewing them on the big screen while knowing I was about to see the horse in person was really special.
I got chills watching the son of Cee’s Tizzy loping down the track, a laid back, yet determined gleam in his eye as he won both races in gritty fashion by a neck and a nose, respectively.
Immediately after viewing the races, Amy led me into the barn, and there Tiznow was—standing in all of his massive glory. I really had no idea how huge he was (I’m pretty sure Amy said more than 16.3 hands) until seeing him with my own eyes.
When I asked Tiznow’s groom what the stallion liked to eat he replied with a laugh, “everything” as Tiznow nibbled on his leather lead rope.
I realize my photo does not do Tiznow justice, but you get the idea!
This one is MUCH better--it was taken at an earlier date by our own Anne Eberhardt Keogh
Amy noted that Tiznow, who is hand walked every day, has a couple of funny quirks. While he’s distinctive and charismatic, he also has some very particular likes and dislikes. For one, Tiznow loves having his photo taken. I know mine isn't the greatest, because it was taken in a dark barn, but the horse poses like he was born to be in the limelight.
One of Tiznow’s major dislikes that I witnessed firsthand was that of concrete. “He doesn’t like the feel of concrete on his feet, so he’ll adjust his steps so he doesn’t have to walk over it,” said Amy as we watched the horse carefully step over the slab of concrete in front of his barn so that his feet didn’t land on it.
Amy, who said she easily picks out Tiznow’s offspring at the sales because of their tall, lanky bodies, added that the stallion also has a hatred for cold weather. “Usually if it’s 30 degrees or below, they don’t put him outside,” she said. “He’s a California horse all the way, and I think in a way it shows how intelligent he is.”
Are any of you big Tiznow fans, and have you had a chance to visit him as well? What did you think?
Here’s a look at some of the other photos I took around WinStar. Enjoy!
Winstar's beautiful office
New training barn
Site of the future outdoor equine swimming pool
New Polytrack training track--I'm standing under the official clocker's station!