Two-thirds of the way into her 3-year-old season, Bear Now seemed clearly defined as a very smart filly for Canadian racing, but one who was some way short of the best of her contemporaries south of the border. That description would have been justified by three straight wins on Woodbine’s all-weather surface – in the Selene Stakes (gr. III), Hill ‘n’ Dale Stakes, and Duchess Stakes, which she took by a combined 24 lengths – coupled with the fact that in between the second and third of those performances, she was beaten 8 1/2 lengths in the Delaware Oaks (gr. II). For good measure she’d also been off the board in stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park last winter.
In the light of recent events, however, Bear Now’s standing is due some serious revision. Sent to challenge for the $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park, Bear Now took command from the start, turned back a challenge from Octave – arguably the leading active member of the division in the absence of her stable companion Rags to Riches – and drew away again for a two lengths tally.
In considering Bear Now, it’s worth recalling that her sire, Tiznow, made far more than normal progress in the second half of his 3-year-old career. He gained his first stakes win in July with a score in the Affirmed Handicap (gr. III), and after seconds in the Swaps Stakes (gr. I) and Pacific Classic (gr. I), ended the season with successive scores in the Super Derby (gr. I), Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II), and Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). The Classic saw Tiznow hold off fellow 3-year-old Giant’s Causeway in a heart-stopping finish with Captain Steve, Albert the Great, Lemon Drop Kid, Fusaichi Pegasus, and Cat Thief further behind. The victory secured for Tiznow honors as champion 3-year-old and Horse of the Year. The following year, Tiznow kicked off the campaign with a win in the San Fernando Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) and then in March he took the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) by five lengths. His fall campaign, however, started with two defeats as he finished third in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) and Goodwood Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II). He returned to his best on the day that mattered most, again turning back a formidable European traveler – this time Sakhee – to claim a second Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and another Eclipse Award, this time as champion older horse.
By the California-based Relaunch stallion Cee’s Tizzy, out of a mare by Seattle Song, Tiznow rather fell into the pattern of recent stars such as Holy Bull, Skip Away, and Silver Charm, who were extremely talented runners with less than commercial pedigrees. Horses of this kind frequently find it tougher to make an impact as stallions and in this context Tiznow has to be regarded as having made an encouraging start, certainly one which makes his most recently advertised stud fee of $25,000 seem like a very good value.
Somewhat surprisingly – given that he didn’t race at 2 – Tiznow ended 2005 as the leading freshman sire. This was due to his daughter, Folklore, who captured the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II), Matron Stakes (gr. I), and Alberto VO5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), to gain a crown as champion of her generation. Tiznow was represented by only one other stakes winner from that crop, but his second crop ( 3-year-olds of 2007) has demonstrated much more depth. The first to demonstrate high-class ability was Tiz Wonderful, who took the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) – edging out Any Given Saturday – at 2, but whose subsequent career was first sidelined, and then ended, by injury problems. In addition to Tiz Wonderful and Bear Now, that crop also includes Slew’s Tizzy, winner of the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) and Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II); the Hollywood Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. II) winner Tough Tiz’s Sis; Miss Tizzynow, who took the St. Georges Stakes at Delaware Park; Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) runner-up Liquidity; and graded-placed Tenfold. It’s worth noting that of Tiznow’s first seven stakes winners, five are graded scorers.
Controlled, the dam of Bear Now, also emerged from California like Tiznow. In direct female line, the family goes back to the dam of the ferocious Hastings (sire of Man o’ War’s sire, Fair Play), and via a sister-in-blood to both Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Whiskery and Victorian, the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner and leader of his generation at 3. In more recent generations the family had fallen on leaner times, and until the appearance of Bear Now’s granddam, Guilded Times, the last runner of note for the immediate female line was Jewel Prince, a brother to Bear Now’s fourth dam, Likely Mite, who took the Clarendon Stakes, Swynford Stakes, and Summer Stakes at 2 in Canada. Neither Likely Mite nor Bear Now’s third dam, Our Mahney, produced a black type winner. In fact, as far as Our Mahney was concerned, Guilded Times was her only winner. A daughter of Crafty Prospector, Guilded Times didn’t break her maiden until a $62,500 maiden claiming race at Santa Anita on her sixth start, but she did go on to win allowance races at Louisiana Downs and Del Mar, scoring over six furlongs in 1:09.2 in the latter.
What really turned the fortunes of the family around, however, was a series of matings between Guilded Times and California’s leading sire of the era, In Excess (IRE). The first of these resulted in the filly Inexcessivelylucky, who picked up black type with a second in the filly division of the California Sires Stakes. The next year, that same race was captured by Inexcessivelylucky’s sister, Inexcessive Speed. The third In Excess – Guilded Times mating resulted in Bear Now’s dam, Controlled. She rattled off three wins in her first three starts – all against state-breds – including the Generous Portion Stakes and California Sires Stakes. She apparently failed to stay when fourth in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes at 8 1/2 furlongs, but a drop back to seven furlongs saw her end her 2-year-old campaign with a four lengths win in the filly division of the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. First time out at 3, Controlled started as favorite for the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II), but after setting the early fractions was unable to hold off a pair of very talented distaffers, Honest Lady and Rayelle. Controlled’s final start saw her again beat up on Cal-breds to take the six-furlong Boo La Boo Stakes at Santa Anita.
The In Excess – Guilded Times die was rolled three more times for one minor winner before it came up with a six again in the shape of Icecoldbeeratreds. The best of what were to be eight siblings, Icecoldbeeratreds ran just five times, all at 2. He won three of those races, including the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) and Graduation Stakes, and ended his career with a good second to Toccet in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I).
Controlled started her breeding career in California, where her first foal was the colt Controlled Meeting, a son of the Seattle Slew stallion General Meeting. He ran seven times, all at 3, and won three races, including the Ky Alta Handicap, and was beaten just a head in the Canadian Derby (gr. III) at Northlands Park. After producing two unraced foals by Tiznow’s sire, Cee’s Tizzy, Controlled has produced Bear Now, followed by an unraced 2-year-old filly by Deputy Commander and a Vindication yearling colt which realized $310,000 at the Keeneland September sale.
From a pedigree perspective, the obvious question is what started the revival of the family, and particularly the connection between In Excess and Guilded Times? I would venture that the initial keys are concentrations of two strains in the pedigree of Guilded Times. One of those is War Relic, a particularly nasty-tempered son of Man o’ War. War Relic had a very unusual pedigree, as he was inbred 3 x 3 to both Rock Sand and Fairy Gold, two of the grandparents of Man o’ War. A look at the pedigree of Guilded Times’ sire, Crafty Prospector, shows that he is out of a mare inbred 4 x 4 to War Relic, so intensifying this influence. Guilded Times’ dam, Our Mahney, was by Olden Times, who in turn was by War Relic’s son, Relic, so continuing to pile up the background of Man o’ War’s pedigree. Olden Times’ dam was inbred to Tourbillon (FR), a horse from the same Frizette family as Crafty Prospector’s sire, Mr. Prospector. (There is another strain of this family here through Jet Pilot, sire of Guilded Times’ fourth dam).
In Excess is a grandson of Caro (IRE), and that horse’s sire, Fortino II, was out of a mare by Relic. It’s worth noting that Caro has frequently combined well with Tartan/Genter strains, among them In Reality (two grade I winning examples being Unbridled’s Song and Honour and Glory). In Excess’s sire, Siberian Express, is a member of the Frizette family, and his granddam, La Morlaye is bred along very similar lines to Gold Digger, the dam of Mr. Prospector, La Morlaye is by Hafiz, a son of Nearco, and out of a Count Fleet mare named Manzana, while Gold Digger is by Nashua (a grandson of Nearco) and out of another Count Fleet daughter named Sequence. In Excess has a second cross of the Frizette family through Sing Sing, the grandsire of his dam.
So, we would suggest that the success of the In Excess – Guilded Times pairing was due to an unusual build-up of the strains of War Relic and Frizette (note that the great breeder Marcel Boussac, who developed the Frizette family, imported Relic to France to combine with that strain). The success of the Tiznow mating with Controlled, which produced Bear Now, may well be a continuation of that process. Tiznow is a grandson of Relaunch (a son of In Reality, giving Bear Now a 4 x 5 cross to that stallion), who is bred on similar lines to the dam of Crafty Prospector, and whose third dam is by Djeddah (closely inbred to the Frizette family). Tiznow is out of a mare by Seattle Song, whose sire, Seattle Slew, has a granddam inbred to the Frizette family.
By strange coincidence, Bear Now’s Cotillion runner-up Octave is by Unbridled's Song – a Mr. Prospector-line horse whose dam is by Caro out of a half sister to Seattle Song – and is inbred to both Caro and to the dam of In Reality, so she shares quite a similar genetic heritage to Bear Now.