The news cycle in the Thoroughbred business moves like an opening quarter-mile in :21 and change this time of year. In the past two weeks we’ve been inundated with announcements from nearly all of the stallion operations with new deals for the incoming class of 2021 as well as the fees for the coming season—most of them having been reduced due to results of this year’s yearling sales.
There’s other news as well as this week’s cover and the following features suggest. The Breeders’ Cup, with its 14 World Championships races returns to Keeneland Nov. 6-7. As always, late October is a very exhilarating time of year.
Of note for breeders and Breeders’ Cup fans alike this week were two items in stud fee announcements from market leaders WinStar Farm and Coolmore’s Ashford Stud…but they required a bit of digging. In WinStar’s release, near the bottom, was the news of the retirement of Tiznow from active stud duty, and Ashford Stud’s fee announcement disclosed that Fusaichi Pegasus was not going to be in service next season. The horses—both foals of 1997—were seemingly from opposite sides of the tracks but turned out to be towering figures on the racetrack as well as strong influences on the American Stud Book. They both took part in the memorable Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) of 2000, now an unfathomable two decades in the rearview mirror.
Fusaichi Pegasus, bred by Arthur Hancock III’s Stone Farm and Bob and Janice McNair’s Stonerside, was born to be a star. By breed-shaping Mr. Prospector out of Angel Fever, he was one of those horses that come along once in a generation—a Keeneland yearling sales-topper who lives up to the hefty price tag. The colt caused quite a stir at the 1998 Keeneland July sale, bringing a final bid of $4 million from the flamboyant Japanese businessman Fusao Sekiguchi.
Tiznow had solid bloodlines as well, but Cecilia Straub Rubens’ homebred colt from California by Cee’s Tizzy out of Cee’s Song, by Seattle Song, wouldn’t have been considered a seven-figure sale yearling.
They took much different paths to the 17th running of the Classic. Fusaichi Pegasus won the Kentucky Derby (G1) as the 2-1 favorite, back in a time where the favorite rarely won, but lost the Preakness Stakes (G1) to Red Bullet over a good surface at Pimlico. Trainer Neil Drysdale gave Fusaichi Pegasus the summer off, then returned him in the one-turn mile Jerome Handicap (G2) in late September as his Breeders’ Cup prep.
Meanwhile Tiznow didn’t break his maiden until May 31 but impressed as the summer wore on, winning the Sept. 30 Super Derby (G1) and the Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G2) for trainer Jay Robbins.
The Classic field was dominated by 3-year-old talent that also included Captain Steve and Albert the Great, along with Europe’s “Iron Horse” Giant’s Causeway, the winner of five successive group 1 races, whose unknown dirt form left him as the 7-1 third choice behind Fusaichi Pegasus and the 6-1 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid.
As many thrilling stretch runs as there have been in the Classic, the 2000 holds up remarkably well. Tiznow edged a determined Giant’s Causeway by a neck. Fusaichi Pegasus failed to fire and finished sixth. Tiznow would, of course, do one better the following year at Belmont—within sight of a smoldering downtown Manhattan—winning the Classic for a second time in dramatic fashion, helping a nation to begin to heal from 9/11 in the process.
Fusaichi Pegasus, syndicated for a reported $60 million, stood at Ashford Stud for $150,000 in 2001 and later shuttled to Coolmore Australia and Haras Don Alberto in Chile. Tiznow entered stud for the 2002 season at WinStar at $30,000, in partnership with the Taylor family’s Taylor Made Farm.
Fusaichi Pegasus had major winner Roman Ruler in his initial crop and has gone on to sire 86 stakes winners.
Despite not racing at 2, Tiznow was an instant hit, getting Folklore, winner of the Alberto VO5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and an Eclipse Award in his first crop. As of Oct. 26 he is the sire of 90 stakes winners.
As a broodmare sire, Tiznow is represented by Tiz the Law, who is looking to make his own mark on the 2020 Classic at 3.