Tiznow, Chapter 2

(Warning: the following is 3,400 words, so proceed at your own risk. I am hoping the two stories provide a comprehensive history of Tiznow’s BC Classic wins)

Thoroughbred racing has always been confined to its own small world, safe and protected from the tumultuous events that surround it. There have been individual stars that have transcended the sport and reached out to touch mainstream America. But never before had the Sport of Kings been woven into the often tattered fabric of history.

That is, until the 2001 Breeders' Cup, when racing's biggest day was played out 12 miles from the hell of Ground Zero, where the ashes from what was once the World Trade Center still smoldered.

That was the setting for Tiznow’s amazing second victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

But before we go back to Belmont Park on Oct. 27, 2001, we must begin earlier that winter, as Tiznow embarked on his 4-year-old campaign. With not much more to prove following his first Classic victory and winning Eclipse Awards as leading 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year, Tiznow, nonetheless, was kept in training by Michael Cooper after the death of his his longtime friend and partner Cecilia Straub-Rubens just three days after the Classic.

As told in the first story, Straub-Rubens’ final words to trainer Jay Robbins were: “Take care of my boy.” As it turned out, that was more difficult of a task than Robbins could have imagined.

The champ appeared to be heading for further glory after romping in the Santa Anita Handicap. But that all changed on the morning of April 12 following a six-furlong workout with Chris McCarron aboard. After the saddle was removed, the colt just stood there and refused to walk. Robbins knew something was wrong, thinking at first that colt had tied up (cramped up).

When Tiznow returned to the track he was unable to jog properly, and was noticeably off in his hind end. Dr. Rick Arthur was called in. A nuclear scan revealed that one of the vertebrae was showing a good deal of heat. That was complicated by muscular problems. Robbins' father, Jack, one of the foremost veterinarians in the country before his retirement, also tried to figure out what was wrong.

"We consulted with other vets around the country," Jay Robbins said, "and they had never seen anything like it. It hurt me to watch him; he could hardly move."

"No one thought he'd ever run again," Jack Robbins added. "He was so off behind, everyone was horrified. If someone had told me at that time this colt would win the Breeders' Cup Classic again this year I wouldn't have believed it. Dr. Arthur put him on a muscle relaxant and prescribed lots of time and rest."

Tiznow began light exercise during the middle of May, but his trainer felt the horse wasn't making much progress. "We poulticed his back and put hot packs on it, then walked him a lot," Robbins said. "He began to show improvement, so we started galloping him. He still didn't look that good and a lot of my peers said, 'Why don't you just retire him?'

But Cooper, still thinking of the courage Straub-Rubens showed by traveling to the Breeders’ Cup to see Tiznow run, was determined to give him every chance to make it back. He had promised himself after the Classic that he’d never complain about anything in racing again.

“After Tiznow won the Breeders’ Cup the way he did, and doing it for Mrs. Rubens, who was so ill at the time, how could I ever ask for anything more than that?” he said. “After 20 years of disappointment in racing, it had all been such a mystical experience.”

One morning in July, Chris McCarron galloped Tiznow and said he didn't feel quite right behind. But Robbins could see improvement and the colt began to show progress. The next time McCarron got on him he told Robbins he felt perfect."

Tiznow was on his way back, and Robbins put him on tranquilizers in order to make it easier to train him. "He's so into what he does, I didn't want him to do too much every day," he said.

Meanwhile, friction was developing between Cooper and Robbins about where to run the horse. Cooper wanted to run him in the Woodward Stakes, but Robbins did not want to send him all the way to New York off a layoff to run against the best horses in the east. He preferred the one-mile Del Mar Handicap, but Cooper did not want to risk getting Tiznow beat by El Corredor, whom he considered a “monster” at a mile. It finally was decided to ship Tiznow back to New York to defend his title.

Tiznow ran gamely in the Woodward, finishing a close third, but didn't seem to have his usual spark. To make matters worse, the race was run three days before 9/11. With the airports shut down, Tiznow was stranded at Belmont Park. As he walked the shed of trainer Shug McGaughey's barn, off in the distance, a deathly shroud still hung over the now-naked skyline of Lower Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty, once nestled under the shadow of the World Trade Center's twin towers, now stood under an ominous ashen cloud that stretched across New York Harbor all the way to New Jersey.

At the Belmont stable gate, a sign was tucked into the window of the booth showing the American flag, with the words: "Pray For America." As Tiznow continued to walk the shed, exercise rider Ramon Arciga said, "We're stuck here. "We  were supposed to have left Wednesday, then again on Friday. Now they say Tuesday, but we're not sure when we'll be leaving.

Tiznow finally was able to return home to prepare for the Goodwood Stakes, but instead of improving off the Woodward, he turned in an uncharacteristically dull performance in the Goodwood, behind longshot Freedom Crest and Skimming. Following the Goodwood, Robbins took Tiznow off the tranquilizers, and in the process, unleashed a terror.

Let's just say mornings with Tiznow were not quite as mellow as mornings with Mr. Rogers. The colt became obstinate and cantankerous, lashing out at his lead pony and refusing to train until he was good and ready. Other times, he’d be jogging on the outside fence and suddenly just dart across the track to the inside fence. “I was scared to death he was going to get someone hurt,” Robbins said. “He was doing all kinds of dumb things.”

One morning, it took 45 minutes on the track before McCarron could get him to work. When the colt finally decided he was ready, he turned in a spectacular mile work in 1:35 3/5.

Meanwhile, events were taking place back east that would set the stage for one of the greatest international spectacles in the history of the sport.

America, especially New York City, was still in shock over the cataclysmic events of 9/11, and there was talk about many of the Europeans not showing up. But Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien assured the Breeders’ Cup that he’d be there with his powerful arsenal.

The first indication that this would not be a normal Breeders' Cup came on Oct. 11 when Sheikh Mohammed’s private 747 jet, which had departed Stanstead Airport in England at 1:30 p.m., touched down at JFK International Airport. On board were three of Godolphin's biggest stars -- the brilliant Sakhee, runaway winner of the Arc de Triomphe and Juddmonte International; the globe-trotting Fantastic Light, a major stakes winner in the United States, Ireland, England, Hong Kong, and Dubai, and third, beaten a neck, in the Japan Cup; and the top miler, Noverre, winner of the Sussex Stakes.

Awaiting the trio upon their arrival at the Saudi Arabian cargo terminal were two FBI agents, four customs agents, and three carloads of Port Authority police. The horses were vanned to Belmont, joining the other Godolphin horses under the care of head assistant Tom Albertrani.

The main question was: in which races would Sakhee and Fantastic Light be entered? It was assumed Sakhee would go for the Turf, with Fantastic Light, who had worked well over the Belmont dirt the year before, headed for the Classic. But Albertrani said he had a gut feeling it would be the other way around, with Godolphin attempting to make history by winning the Arc and the Breeders' Cup Classic with the same horse and in a span of only 20 days. A victory by Sakhee surely would make him the "Horse of the World."

Godolphin also would be converging on Belmont Park from the opposite direction, with top-class 2-year-olds Tempera, Imperial Gesture, Essence of Dubai, and Ibn Al Haitham due to arrive from Eoin Harty's barn at Santa Anita.

A week before the Breeders’ Cup, a Sallee horse van rolled into the Belmont backstretch carrying two Breeders' Cup horses. The first off the van was the freshly clipped Caller One, a leading contender for the Sprint. After him came the familiar tornado-blazed face of Tiznow.

Despite a layer of dust that covered him after his long trip from California, the champ was bursting with dapples. The colt stopped to shake some of the dust off and was led into the grassy area behind Shug McGaughey's barn by exercise rider Ramon Arciga to unwind a little.

A few minutes later, the tranquility was interrupted by the muffled sound of Tom Durkin's voice calling that day's eighth race. In a flash, Tiznow's head sprang up. His eyes widened and he stood like a statue, with his ears cocked, staring off into the distance at the Belmont grandstand. It wasn't until the race was over and all was again quiet that he returned to grazing.

"He knows where the action is," Arciga said. "He knows something big is about to happen.” Arciga then turned to Tiznow and said, "Hey, Papa, we're gonna kick some butt, aren't we?" Tiznow then was led into his stall, took a roll in the wood shavings, and settled in to his new home for the week.

But this moment of bliss would be short-lived. The following morning, Robbins showed up, not knowing what to expect from his temperamental star. Much to his dismay, he would soon find out. Tiznow went out for his clockwise jog around the track just after the renovation break, and immediately turned into a one-horse wrecking crew, balking, kicking, back-peddling, and side-stepping his way around the track. As he walked off, Robbins told Arciga to bring him back on and go around again. "I'm either gonna confuse him or confuse myself," he said. Tiznow was better the second time around, but down the backstretch, he lost it again, and scooted backwards across the width of the track. An outrider finally had to grab the colt and escort him back.

Robbins went out later that day to buy a bottle of vodka to give to Tiznow to help calm him down. It was a practice that had been used by some trainers in the past. But it was Sunday and all the liquor stores were closed, so Robbins was on his own.

He decided to change the colt's schedule, sending him out before the break, when there was much less traffic, and having him go counterclockwise for a change. It seemed to work. Accompanied by Shug McGaughey’s exercise rider Pam York and her pony, Andy, Tiznow improved each day. Robbins, watching from the trainer's stand one morning, crossed both his fingers as Tiznow ambled calmly around the track. His gallops got stronger, and by late week, he was tearing over the track with the same power and authority as he had the year before at Churchill Downs.

At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 22, an Air Transport International DC-8 taxied up to the same Saudi Arabian terminal at JFK. Veterinarian John Miller boarded the plane and took the blood on the seven Ballydoyle-trained horses arriving from Shannon Airport. The blood would then be flown by Lear Jet to Ames, Iowa, where lab technician John Eli would meet the plane and take the samples to the lab for analysis. Expediting the procedure would allow the Ballydoyle horses to clear quarantine by 10 p.m. the following day.

The Ballydoyle contingent was believed to be the most expensive shipment of Thoroughbred racehorses in history. An insurance company appraised their value at $200 million, with Galileo, winner of the English Derby, Irish Derby, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, alone valued at $65 million. Also on board were the brilliant undefeated 2-year-old Johannesburg, St. Leger winner Milan, and top-class stakes horses Black Minnaloushe, Bach, Mozart, and Sophisticat.

About an hour after the arrival of the Ballydoyle horses, an Air France 747 pulled up to the Air France terminal, carrying three horses -- Banks Hill, Spring Oak, and Slew the Red, all trained by Andre Fabre in Chantilly.

This three-pronged European force would wind up winning an incredible $3,907,200 in Breeders' Cup purse money.

On Wednesday, Oct. 24, the morning of the entries, Godolphin sent shock waves rippling through the backstretch when it announced Fantastic Light would run in the Turf and Sakhee would go for the Classic in an attempt to climb Mt. Olympus and enter the pantheon of greats.

On the morning of the race, Sandy Robbins, knowing the problems that were brewing between Jay and Cooper, said to her husband, “I want this for you so badly.”

Breeders' Cup Day was unlike anything ever seen at a racetrack. Police dogs were used to search random automobiles entering the track parking lot. Soldiers were stationed throughout Belmont, armed with AKA assault rifles. Snipers were positioned on the roof, observing the crowd with high-powered binoculars. The whole scene was surreal.

As part of the opening ceremonies prior to the races, dozens of jockeys, accompanied by members of the New York Police and Fire departments, lined up, each holding the flag of his country. The National Anthem was sung by Carl Dixon of the New York Police Department following a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace."

On the racing front, Alastair Donald of the International Racing Bureau was expecting a big day from the powerful European brigade. "If we get our asses kicked, we'll have to think up some good excuses," he said.

Walking to the holding barn, Arciga spoke to Tiznow with reassuring words. The colt pinned his ears and "gave me that look," Arciga said. He had seen that same look a year earlier and a wave of confidence came over him. "I said to myself, 'We're gonna do it. I know we're gonna do it.'"

Fast forward to the running of the Classic, as the field nears the quarter pole. Albert the Great is trying to gut it out on the lead, with Tiznow right behind, but not threatening at this point. The all-too familiar silks of Godolphin emerge in the picture, as Sakhee comes charging up on the outside to take a narrow lead. Tiznow is now back in third and still not putting in much of a run, but moves into second when Albert the Great begins to drop back. Still, he appears beaten, as Sakhee has taken a half-length lead with less than a furlong to go.

McCarron thinks he’s beaten. Robbins thinks he’s beaten. Cooper is still hoping his miracle horse could pull out another miracle, but just wants Tiznow to continue to battle. "When Sakhee went by him, I thought, 'Keep going, boy; keep going. Show him you got guts, anyway.'"

To racing fans across America, it was happening all over again, just like the previous year. America was a heartbeat away from being conquered in the Breeders' Cup Classic. This time, however, a defeat would have been an ignominious end to the 2001 Breeders’ Cup. First, it was a thrashing from the French in the Filly & Mare Turf by Banks Hill. Then, it was the Irish who decimated the American youngsters in the Juvenile, as Johannesburg burst clear to win going away. Adding insult to injury, the Turf then went to the English, represented by Godolphin’s Fantastic Light, with the Irish colt Milan finishing off a one-two European coup-de-grace.

Sakhee, with immortality a mere furlong away, reached back to deal the fatal blow. But then something happened, something we'd seen before. McCarron hit Tiznow once left-handed and he surged forward. Right before everyone's eyes, last year's Superman, Tiznow, stripped away the glasses and gray suit he had worn in his previous two races. The Clark Kent of the Woodward Stakes and Goodwood Handicap had emerged from his phone booth and was becoming airborne, just as he had in the 2000 Classic when another European powerhouse, Giant's Causeway, dared to challenge America's dominance on dirt.

Tiznow’s problems were now behind him. All he needed was an opponent, apparently a European, to re-ignite the fire in his eyes. One look at Sakhee about to deal America another crushing defeat and the mild-mannered colt once again became faster than a speeding bullet; once again became more powerful than a locomotive. He reached back into that indefinable reservoir we call heart, and in the shadow of the wire, was able to snatch victory away from Sakhee. America, for a fleeting instant, was as she was before Sept. 11-- untainted and impenetrable. The nation's fighting spirit that emerged in the face of disaster had manifested itself in the form of a magnificent, powerful Thoroughbred who simply refused to be defeated.

By thrusting his nose in front of Sakhee on the wire, a California-bred with relatively obscure bloodlines had become the first two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic. And he did it by defeating the greatest international field ever assembled for a dirt race. His victims included the winners of the English Derby, Irish Derby, Arc de Triomphe, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Irish Two Thousand Guineas, as well as two Jockey Club Gold Cup winners.

In the stands, Sandy Robbins was in tears. Cooper’s legs went numb and he couldn’t walk for several minutes. He also couldn't help but think of his longtime partner and close friend, Cecilia Straub-Rubens. "She was such a special lady and a special friend," he said. "I wish she had been here to enjoy this. I think Tiz knew in spirit she was here, the way he came back and gutted it out right down on the line, kind of like the way she was, too. Who knows, it could have been Cee kicking him in the ass. I thought about her and thanked her. At least I know she went out with a big smile on her face.”

Frankie Dettori had nothing but praise for Tiznow, and tremendous admiration for his horse. "He's still a winner to me," he said. "For him to run like he did first time on dirt and having run three weeks ago in Paris, he must be a superstar. Full credit to Tiznow. He knuckled down and got me. He has a great reputation and a head like a dinosaur."

Godolphin assistant Laurent Barbarin put it best when he said of Sakhee, "He came a nose away from making history. It would have been something amazing, but we'll be back again."

Back at the barn, Tiznow immediately dove into a pile of alfalfa. Cooper  called over to his trainer, "Hey, Robbins, you got the condition book. He's ready to go again." Tiznow was then treated to carrots, apples, and mints by his admiring family. McCarron showed up and wrapped his arms around Tiznow's massive neck. "You are the man!" he said.

As Cooper departed, he told Arciga and groom Carlos Aguilar, "Good night, guys. Once again, wonderful job. I know it hasn't been easy, but you did terrific. There will be Christmas again this year."

One of the last to leave was Robbins’s father Jack, who went over to Tiznow and said, "You got the job done, White Face. You did yourself proud."

The colt also did New York City proud. At a time when so many heroes had surfaced in the Big Apple, Tiznow, in his own way, came to embody the indomitable spirit that had emerged over the past two months.

Soon after the Breeders’ Cup, Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, who were 5-3 at the time and seemingly going nowhere, was looking for something that would inspire his team. He showed them a tape of Tiznow’s Classic and told them the importance of the race, and impressed upon them how victory comes to those who want it the most. So, instead of watching game films, the Patriots watched Tiznow battle back to turn certain defeat into victory. Whether it was coincidence or not, the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year, which began one the great dynasties in NFL history.

That December, Robbins received a Christmas card from Belichick, on which he wrote, “Thanks for the inspiration.” The following February, Belichick presented the Eclipse Award for leading older male to Cooper and Robbins.

In looking for the proper words to describe Tiznow’s 2001 Classic victory, I found them in the form of an old English saying.

Although not the powerful force he had been that winter and the previous fall, Tiznow, despite his injuries and mental foibles and coming off two defeats, somehow was able to rise to the challenge, giving new meaning to the saying, "Spirit shall be the stouter, heart the bolder, courage the greater, as our might lessens."  


Leave a Comment:


3,400 words were just like an appetizer, Steve.  You seriously should consider doing a book on Tiznow - and loop the story of Budroyale into the mix.  I have talked to a few people - but none could think of two full brothers - one year apart - who competed so successfully at the very top echelon of the sport!  Plus - they were both such cool personalities and so tough in competition!

Give it some thought - all your fans (and especially the fans of Tiznow) would love to have you as his official biographer!

PS:  Am I correct in my recall that McCarron said Tiznow's antics reminded him of John Henry - who also loved to call his own work out shots?  I seem to remember him saying that Tiznow was very, very smart- as was John Henry - and that both had figured out ways to extend their times outside of the stall.

22 Sep 2008 11:18 AM
Brian A.

 Wow, I loved this, it was great!  Your so passionate when you write.  Was this part of what you wrote in 2001 when he won the race, or is it new?

22 Sep 2008 11:30 AM

Great story Steve. I did not know that his back was that bad early that year. What an amazing training job to bring him back to that level. Whose quote did you use at the end? It sounds like Winston Churchill.

22 Sep 2008 12:01 PM
needler in Virginia

Nothing else to say, but "thank you, Steve". You have brought the tears again, and NOT for the last time, I'm certain.

22 Sep 2008 12:09 PM
Matthew W

Tiznow was nowhere near the horse he was in The 2000 Classic--yet he still beat a strong field.....Steve, you're right, as you weaken, it comes out more, and you can see it in those (Iconic) photos of that marvelous trying head, truly Tiznow can be appreciated now for his transcendent place in this Sport Of Kings...and, oh yeah, he was a pretty good hoss at 1 1/4/,looked the part/gets horses that run like him and could be the most important sire since Sunday Silence!

22 Sep 2008 12:20 PM
Sally O'Connell

Since I started watching horse racing in the sixties, there have been 2 races where I became so emotional from watching a horse's incredible performance that I actually cried. One was Secretariat's Belmont and the other was Tiz's 9/11 Breeders Cup win. Incredible.  

22 Sep 2008 12:36 PM
Rebs Policy

Thank You Mr. Haskin for your inspired two-part vignette that encapsulated two stirring events with style and emotion.

No need for the caveat about the 3400 words. They flew by like Tiznow himself: Gutsy & right on the line!



22 Sep 2008 12:36 PM


The story surrounding the race was just as compelling as the race itself, if not more so. So much to overcome and what a trial and handful for Jay. Read it 3 times, got better each time.


22 Sep 2008 12:41 PM

There is a huge difference between a Reporter and a Writer.  Reading the story of a Reporter...tells you who won, and a couple of other vital stats.  Reading the story of a writer, gives you an insite into the soul of the competitors.  

    Your gracious words in these two remarkable installments invite us into the lives of Tiznow and his connections.  We can actually feel Mrs. Ruebens love for Tiznow, and Mr. Robins love for Mrs. Ruebens!  We can sense the dread that Giant's Causeway and Sahkee felt, at being bested by a superior opponent.  The bumps in the road that Tiznow traveled, can be thought of a synonamous, with the bumps we all have felt in our own lives. I get the feeling that Tiznow won, because it was what he thought he was supposed to do! A blue collar horse, just doing his job.

Thanks Steve, for being so much more than a Reporter!  This was classic work! I would certainly buy the book!

22 Sep 2008 1:51 PM
Frank J.

That was an awesome story Steve if I wasn't reading it at work there would have been tears also. I remember that race so clearly. I had my wife take a picture of "me" and Tiznow when he was in victory circle, great job!

22 Sep 2008 1:52 PM
Keith M

Fantastic article, enough said.

22 Sep 2008 2:45 PM
Faithful Reader

Tiznow fit my definition of great from the instant he won the Super Derby-- all heart.

22 Sep 2008 3:34 PM

Steve, after my 5 text messages from Brad about the story, since you posted it this morning, I finally read it. Re-read part 1 then Part 2. Great story, that was a scary time for us all and with me loving the horses since I was  little and not being that old in 2001 I was looking for a sense of normalcy and found it with the Breeders Cup and especially Tiznow. No military for me due to the illness that nearly killed me when I was a little kid. I was still amazed by the grittiness of Tiz and even though I knew he had issues, guess I didn't realize they were so bad. Thanks for the great stories.

You need to keep writing and taking us along on journeys of the memories and the imagination. My buddy has probably read it 10 times by now, plus doing his work, plus watching TVG/HRTV and reading a book or two. Keep him busy with your stories, he is 'slightly' hyperactive as you may have guessed.

22 Sep 2008 3:37 PM
Mike S

Wow! What a beautifully written, emotional accounting of TIZNOW's 2001 BC Classic. I was there that day at Belmont Park, and couldn't believe all the police and soldiers everywhere, and the snipers on the roof, it was totally unsettling and made me feel very odd...I didn't feel like I was in America.

I froze my you-know-what off all day long, to enjoy a great day of racing, but especially to see TIZNOW win another one. And that's just what he did. It was one of the most exciting races I've ever seen, and I was elated when he won. The race caller did a masterful job, and I think his call "TIZNOW wins it for America" coupled with the circumstances of 09/11/2001, and how this horse really represented our country at that moment, have made TIZNOW the larger than life hero that he has become. And I think those are the reasons that he's so popular at stud. Even after a dismal 2006 by his progeny breeders lined up so many mares in 2007 that his 2008 crop totals 122 foals. People sensed greatness here, and now they're being rewarded again with his progeny competing (and winning) at the highest level of racing.

Steve, this story got me all emotional and made me tear up. Thank you for that.

22 Sep 2008 3:53 PM
The Colonel

He has the heart of a true champion - try as you might but he'll never go away and he'll never let you by.

"Remember, children, wherever you are,

You carry the blood of Man o' War."

22 Sep 2008 4:05 PM

This story of the events preceeding his second victory read like a Hollywood script, yet it's true.  I read it and just started tearing up. I agree - you should write a book.

It has done my heart good to see this horse that so-called experts wrote off as a sire his first two years, come on and turn out some really lovely horses.  He may single-handedly save the Relaunch/In Reality sire line!  Go, Tiz!

22 Sep 2008 4:24 PM

Mr. Haskins,

Thanks for doing both of these stories, they were superb.

Tiznow's BC Classics are two of my favorite races.  I was there for the first, can't forget it.

22 Sep 2008 6:17 PM
equine paparazzi

Well done. Wonderful story told in a wonderful style.

I too had trouble walking after this race. My hands trembled and my eyes were teary for a while.

We had a lot of emotion invested in Tiznow as we were present for and filmed many of his works in 2001 at Del Mar and Santa Anita. I filmed the famous BC work that took 45 minutes. We have all this available on our Tiznow Chronicles.

And I may be the only person on planet earth to have visited and petted Bud Royal, Tiznow, Tiz Bud and Tiz Dubai.

Like everyone else on this blog I follow all his get and bet accordingly.

22 Sep 2008 6:54 PM

Wow, Steve, I am amazed once more at your ability to tell a story so well the visual images spurred in my head by your words..well, just Wow!  Or simply, ditto what needler said - thank you so much.

22 Sep 2008 7:08 PM
Steve Haskin

I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to tell the story of both Classics, which still get me emotional whenever I watch them. I'm so happy you all enjoyed reading them. It was something I've been wanting to share (without space limitations) for a long time. I will continue to take these kinds of behind-the-scenes journeys back and hope you all come along for the ride.

22 Sep 2008 8:30 PM
Megan P.

Seriously, goosebumps.  Awesome article.   Your words did exactly what they were supposed too, I felt like I was watching it all over again.  And it was amazing.

22 Sep 2008 8:35 PM
Steve Haskin

Brian, some of it is from what I  wrote in 2001, some of it is from other things I wrote, and some of it is new. I tried to put it all together to form one detailed story.

22 Sep 2008 8:35 PM

Thanks so much, Mr. Haskins, for this followup with Tiznow.  He's been 'my' horse from the first time I saw him run, and even now I check in at Winstar's website to see if there's anything new about him.

I was shaking with emotion when he beat Giants Causeway and remember thinking 'that is what "heart" is all about'.

And to have a repeat the following year stick gives me chills.

Its a delight to see his offspring run and watch them go thru sales rings.

Like many others on here, Mr. Haskins, I would beg you to write a book about him and his connections...you obviously like and admire him, and you definitely have a way with words.....please, please, please.

22 Sep 2008 8:54 PM

What a great bonus it would have been to have a link at the end of the story that readers could click on to see a video replay of the race.  

22 Sep 2008 9:17 PM

Steve, this was simply amazing. I can't wait to read more of anything you write.

22 Sep 2008 9:18 PM
Bill Casner

Steve--You have certainly captured the heart and soul that defined Tiznow's iron will and pushed him to "Win one for America".

We at WinStar feel incredibly priviledged and humbled to have this great champion standing at our farm. He is a special horse who understands his stature and poses like the regal champion he is whenever he receives visitors. He will stand with ears pricked and feet in place until the last picture is taken and is as classy and well mannered as any stallion could be. We have both BC races on video when you enter the atrium of the stud barn and I always get chills and goosed bumps everytime I watch them play---His courage never ceases to amaze me and all the visitors that re-witness is greatness.  

 What is extremely gratifying to all of us at WinStar is the success that Tiznow is demonstrating in his "second life", in his ability to transmitt his genetic talent and temperament. His sons and daughters are gritty racehorses that have Tiznows mental strength. They are kind and willing and demonstrate the best traits of centuries of thoroughbred breeding. He comes by it naturally thru the In Reality line and his sire and dam. I truly believe that Cee's Tizzy would have been a top ten stallion had he stood in Ky. and Cee's Song has certainly demonstrated that she is blue hen.  

Tiznow's greatness on the racetrack may only be exceeded by the mark he is leaving on the gene pool of the thoroughbred breed.

Well done Steve.    

22 Sep 2008 10:02 PM

Steve, I just was able to read the story, worked late today. Your story mirrors the feelings of many of us at the time. Tiznow showed the courage and determination that America is known for and carried the banner of us all. I remember the race well, how difficult, yet necessary it was to travel to that race in that venue. What a brave guy he was. Everything comes alive for us all when we read your tales.

We all see things in different ways and it's interesting to see your perspective and you tell it in a way that we could never emulate. Thank You!

22 Sep 2008 10:20 PM

Wow! These articles literally took me back to when I watched Tiznow defeat Giant's Causeway and Sakhee. They are wonderful memories! Thank you for bringing them back Steve!

22 Sep 2008 11:24 PM
Richard Ieler

Great story on Tiznow . He truly is a fabulous stallion . Thanks for the written word .A book on Tiznow , not a bad idea .

23 Sep 2008 1:50 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks again to everyone, and thank you Bill for taking the time to write. I know what you mean about Tiznow as a stallion. My wife and I visited him two weeks ago and he took our breath away. I can't remember being around a more magnificent-looking stallion. He stood like a statue with his ears up the whole time like he knew exactly what he was supposed to do. His coat was amazing and he didn't look that much different than he did in his racing days. Congratulations on his incredible year, and it's far from over.

23 Sep 2008 2:06 AM
The Deacon

Bravo, Steve, bravo. America needed a hero, and Tiznow stepped up, bravo again.................

23 Sep 2008 2:50 AM

I adore Tiznow and really enjoyed your stories about him. Was at Belmont for his second Classic win and it brought me to tears! Please consider writing a book about this great champion and national treasure - he certainly deserves it. His story would also make a great movie, for that matter! What drama

23 Sep 2008 7:36 AM

Tiznow is truly an equine hero.

23 Sep 2008 10:23 AM
s lee

Once upon a time, a veteran horseplayer told me "go with the numbers, not with the looks", and he often was right - pretty horses lose just as often as ugly ones.

But there have been days when I've got my book marked and my notes taken, and then I watch the horses come from the barn, I look at their head and eyes, and see how their hooves spurn the ground, and I change my notes.

Some horses run to their numbers, some run to the day.

Thank goodness in 2001, when I saw Tiznow, who was miserable in the Goodwood, walk (no, make that strut) the paddock at Belmont, all I could think of was "geez, what a horse" and out went the past performances.

Nice going, Steve, thanks for the memories.

23 Sep 2008 11:45 AM

I still love watching the shake of his head when he digs down and gets by Sahkee.

And, yes, I agree with karen, even though you have said no more books, you HAVE to do Tiznow. Rachel

23 Sep 2008 11:49 AM

Here's a question for both Steve and for Bill Casner:  I was in Lexington last weekend to work the Bourbon County Secretariat Festival - but had my Friday free.  I contacted WinStar to see if there was an appointment opening that day to visit Tiznow.

Imagine my surprise when I was told by the receptionist (Diane) and also by a British gentleman who she forwarded me to (his name escapes me at the moment) that WinStar no longer opens it's gates to the general public for visits and only works through the tour companies.  But when I contacted the two tour companies listed in the Lexington promotional book - I was told by one that they didn't visit WinStar and the other informed me that they drive through a random 10 farms on each tour and could make no guarantee if or when it would include WinStar.

I contacted WinStar and arranged a visit in 2002 and had one of the best times ever - I was escorted by the head groom, Lenny, to see not only Tiznow (my reason for visiting) but also Distorted Humor and Kris S (2 days before he was put down.)  I sent a glowing thank you to the WinStar PR head at the time for their great customer relations policies and wonderful, welcoming service.

So you can imagine my shock when I was refused this past weekend.  I certainly would have understood if they didn't have an opening on that Friday (I was calling last minute) - but to be told that they no longer admit the general public was really, really surprising.

I understand that the volume of visitors requires structure and appointments for the premier farms - but I strongly recommend that WinStar re-consider their apparently new policy.  After the year racing has just gone through - is it good PR to cut the public off from any ability to see their specific heros?

Steve - I'd love to know how you and your wife got the go ahead for a visit.  I'm guessing it was because of who you are - which is totally right and understandable.  But for the less well known but equally ardent fan - it seems bad form to cut them off.

23 Sep 2008 12:14 PM

Thanks also to Win Star!  Visited there a couple years ago and the stud groom actually let me give Tiznow some peppermints.  Hope that doesn't get anyone into trouble, but Tiznow was a perfect gentleman and I will cherish that memory forever. Also, the personal recollections of the exercise rider and groom in Steve's story are what brings it to life.  I can't imagine being able to stay on such a character!

23 Sep 2008 12:19 PM
Between Friends

This column is meant to be kept and cherished for any fan of Tiznow. I have the 2001 Breeders Cup Classic on videotape and it is still exciting to watch all these years later. I was very disappointed to hear you won't be writing any more books, but your readers do have columns like this one and the one about Damascus and Dr. Fager. How about a collection of them in a book?  

23 Sep 2008 12:44 PM

I too agree that you need to write a book, or at least a collection of all these great 'horse' stories of which you know so much of the background that fulfills us all.

23 Sep 2008 1:16 PM
S. Robertson

WRITE THE BOOK!  This horse is one of my heroes also.

23 Sep 2008 1:33 PM

Thank you Steve. You have demonstrated once again why you are one of the greatest racing writers/storytellers ever. I was in person for both of Tiznow's dramatic Breeder's Cup Classic wins, and after the 01' running was, like others, barely able to walk as I tried to make my way to see him be led into the winners circle. I was lucky enough to have seen Tiznow run two other times, the 01' Santa Anita Handicap which he won by an atypically large margin (5 lengths), and the 00' Affirmed Handicap when, as an unknown horse who had just broken his maiden, he outdueled the very good Dixie Union. That demonstration of heart would be a portend of the future, but I never would have predicted just how amazing Tiznow became.

23 Sep 2008 3:07 PM
Steve Haskin

CGriff, I'm sorry to hear you couldn't get in to see him. I don't know anything about WinStar's policy, so I don't know what to tell you. Perhaps you could write to them and express yourself the way you did here. I would think someone will reply and explain their new policy.

23 Sep 2008 3:16 PM
fred palmer

super,i was there at churchill,when he won the first.i had tears in my eyes,then i started to think about kelso,forego.they would have said job well done.steve write a book for thoughbred legends,i would buy it in a second.

23 Sep 2008 5:48 PM

Yes, I agree with The Colonel, the blood of Man O'War throbs in those veins, his heart, his independence, and even your description of his just standing there like a statue with no doubt the "look of eagles".  I can just imagine Will Harbut saying of Tiznow,"the Mostest Hoss".  Thanks for part 2 Steve!

23 Sep 2008 6:28 PM
Monica V


I remember reading your article after the 2001 Breeders Cup and thinking what a magnificent job you did.  Reading it again with the additons was even better. How lucky we all are to have witnessed those two classic wins by such an amazing animal, especially the 2001 classic and all the meaning it had for all Americans after 9/11.  I've seen some spine tingling races but that one was awe inspiring.  What a horse!  Thanks for the visit back and for describing it with such class, beauty and meaning.  Great work!

23 Sep 2008 7:02 PM


Truly an awesome piece and like others.  I would like to see you write the book.  You can piece the 2 bros and the 2 yrs together better than you? It was a difficult 9/2001 for many and the way you pieced the story was truly an inspirition... Please??

23 Sep 2008 8:35 PM
The Colonel

I read this for at least the fourth time and then I read all the comments. I almost cried.

Walter Farley's fictional biography of Man o' War got me into horse racing. It's...it's just so gratifying that so many years later, one of his descendants is able to carry his fire into the new millennium. I sincerely hope/believe that Tiznow will give us our next Triple Crown winner, and will remain a champion sire for years to come.

23 Sep 2008 11:54 PM
Matthew W

I thought he finished out real well in The 2001 Goodwood but he only finished 3rd...my thinking was he was the best horse based on his 2000 Classic/2001 Big Cap by five...I bet my last tenner on him, and the old boy re-engaged with Sahkee the last 1/16 and put him away---he was truly a 1 1/4 horse...that win over Giants Causeway showcased his greatness---the 2001 win showcased his determination, and on a day where Arab owned horses were dominating/at a time of monumental emotion...and with his nose Tiznow vaults into Racing Immortality---but to me it's always been about the horse--he DID fight back and he DID win!!

24 Sep 2008 4:36 AM
Adam D

"Tiznow wins one for America!!!" - Tom Durkin

24 Sep 2008 8:48 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks all for your encouragement regarding a book on Tiznow. It's not easy finding a publisher, and Eclipse Press is not in the picture. Tiznow is in that limbo-type time period, where he's too old to be topical (like a Barbaro) and too young to be historic (like a Seabiscuit). Yes, he is topical because of his success at stud, but in an esoteric way, and that's not what mainstream publishers are interested in. That's just my take. In addition, I just feel I need a break from book writing, but that could change, so there's still hope that it might happen one day. That's the reason I'm writing these types of blogs -- to tell some of racing's great stories in detail and from a behind-the-scenes perspective. Maybe when I do enough of them they could be put together in book form as some have suggested. But until then I'll keep telling the stories I feel the readers will enjoy, combining that with more current topics.

24 Sep 2008 10:38 AM

Steve, back again. I know I've been prompting you to write a book with a compilation of your blogs, but in your own good time. I look forward to your blogs and know I can count on you for the good stuff. I hope you have more of these BC stories leading up to the big day.

McCarron as the jock, did you get to visit his jockey school? I know you usually do your articles on the horses but the human angle is great too.

24 Sep 2008 10:55 AM
USA Racing#1

Steve DON'T YOU EVER RETIRE!!! I get to live these races all over again with your magnificent stories. Do you realize what you do for your sport and fellow fans? If we could multiply Steve Haskin by a 100 horse racing could be brought back to another golden era. Someone needs to keep reminding us of all that is wonderful and good within racing- Thank You Steve.  Tiznow gave us that win but YOU gave him a voice.

24 Sep 2008 11:30 AM

It has taken me the longest time to figure out how to reply to your two wonderful stories about Tiznow because it's such an emotional subject. 2000 was probably the worst year of my life personally and professionally, and horse racing was a great escape for me. When he dueled against Giant's Causeway and simply refused to lose I was drawing parallels to and inspiration for my own fights. When Tiznow's camp faced their own problems in 2001, oh man, I understood. So, when he came breathing fire down that stretch against Sakhee, in the shadow of 9/11, I will freely admit I was sobbing.

I thank you for writing about the heart behind the horse - and the owners and trainer. (And, yes, pleaes write the book.)

24 Sep 2008 1:34 PM
Steve Haskin

USA, they'll have to forcibly put me out to pasture before I retire, and thank you for your kind words.

Tiz Baby, I hope your bad times are behind you. It's wonderful how a horse's courage can affect a person.

24 Sep 2008 5:58 PM

Steve, maybe since it's BC time you could tell a story or two of other horse wins/losses you've appreciated.

25 Sep 2008 9:05 AM
Steve Haskin

Da Hoss, I will be doing a behind-the-scenes look at BC moments from races I have covered, mainly the Classic. Among them will be your namesake's second Mile victory in 1998.

25 Sep 2008 10:28 AM

Just checking in to let all the bloggers know that - as per Steve's suggestion - I contacted WinStar and pretty much reiterated the questions I posted here.

Not only did they respond - they called me personally to discuss the challenges in allowing access to the farm and its stallions for the public.  They also indicated that they are very attuned to serving the industry and the fans who support it, and are reviewing their farm policies in the hope of adopting a fan friendly policy to allow people to visit without disrupting the day-to-day operations or - even more important - the safety of both the farm's stallions and the visitors.

This is the WinStar I remember so well back in 2002 - top drawer customer service; responsive, welcoming and truly interested in building the relationship between industry and fan.  

I was - candidly - overwhelmed by their graciousness.

I thank WinStar for their kindness and wanted all to know about this so that no negative impression would linger.

I look forward to my next opportunity to visit to see the "Big Man" - my Tizzy!  

25 Sep 2008 4:11 PM
Mike S

Since Mr. Casner posts in this forum I just want to wish him and his wife all the best! Good luck with WELL ARMED tomorrow, I think he's going to win. I hope COLONEL JOHN wins the BC Classic.

I don't live all that close to the racetracks in Southern California, so I don't get to the races all that often, but the last two times I went were to see COLONEL JOHN win the SA Derby, and then WELL ARMED in the San Diego. I'm not gonna call myself a good luck charm though!

I don't have any friends who are horse racing fans, so I hardly get to talk about racing with anyone, so it was great for me to meet Mr. Casner the morning of the SA Derby and talk to him about racing, in general, and TIZNOW, in particular, for an hour. The Casners are such friendly, good people, and I'm happy for their success.

I am so impressed with how TIZNOW has just blossomed, in an unbelievable way, this year! Since I'm TIZNOW's biggest fan I'm very happy. I will definitely have to go out to Santa Anita for the Breeders Cup. I am anticipating TIZNOW having a lot of runners...and a lot of winners.

I can totally see COLONEL JOHN or WELL ARMED winning the BC Classic. SLEW'S TIZNOW has a great shot in the BC Dirt Mile, and I think he will be TIZNOW's newest "BIG HORSE." TIZDEJAVU has a good shot in the BC Turf Mile (let's see him in next week's Shadwell at Keeneland first). BEAR NOW is coming out for the Distaff....I love BEAR NOW...but that's gonna be a hard race! I'm guessing that if TIZZY'S TUNE wins on Sunday she might go for the BC Filly & Mare Sprint (after all, she ran INTANGAROO to a neck early this year). Maybe MERCHANT MARINE, DA' TARA and/or SLEW'S TIZZY could show up as well. It will be very interesting to see what INFORMED does tomorrow in the Goodwood. Too bad TOUGH TIZ'S SIS retired, her Ruffian win was spectacular, and I expected her to finish at least 2nd in the BC.

27 Sep 2008 1:02 AM

mr.haskin:  i have a question that has nothing to do with tiznow..

wonderful horse that i know him to be... why aren't the horse races on tv or even mentioned in the sports news or in the newspapers?

curlin has won his last two races but no tv.  at least not in austin
texas.. i am a big fan of racing so it baffles me why the sport of kings is left out...is the breeders cup going to be on tv nation wide? Is there a special channel on cable tv that carries these races? Curlin is the most famous horse in the world but you would never know it if you lived here...

27 Sep 2008 7:43 PM
Mike S

WELL ARMED does it! WOW! That was awesome. Mr. Casner deserves all the credit in the world for the way he took his time and cared for this horse when he was injured, and then brought horse back to the races. I was very moved when I heard Mr. Casner described the situation the horse was in, and the way he took his time to bring the horse back. What an awesome story. What an awesome horse! I can hardly wait for the Dynamic Duo - COLONEL JOHN & WELL ARMED - to take on CURLIN and BIG BROWN in the Classic.

What a great day it was for TIZNOW. BEAR NOW simply outclassed those rivals at Turfway, and MERCHANT MARINE ran a great race, at a distance that is about 1/8 mile too far for him. I think he's best from 7 furlongs to 8-1/2 furlongs.

27 Sep 2008 8:40 PM

Wow, the big man has another big day.

Well Armed wins the Goodwood, Bear Now wins her Kentucky Cup, and Merchant Marine goes 3rd in the JCGC.

27 Sep 2008 9:12 PM
The Colonel

Well Armed won the Goodwood, Bear Now won the Kentucky Cup Distaff, Merchant Marine finished third to Curlin in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Informed finished an unfortunate last in Well Armed's race.

A good day of racing for me. (And Tiznow, of course.)

28 Sep 2008 1:05 AM
K. Phillips

A beautiful account of a great horse by the most knowledgable writer of my time. I saw Tiznow at Winstar last summer . He is so regal and happy. What a great farm for that champion to spend his 2nd life.  Well done, Mr Haskins

21 Sep 2009 10:31 PM

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