Tizway has been looking for his career-defining win for the past three years. It came in decisive fashion on Memorial Day (May 30) at Belmont Park, as he opened up in the stretch and rolled to a 2 3/4-length victory in the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) (VIDEO).
Sent off as the slight 3-1 favorite in a field of 11, Tizway stalked the pace of Tackleberry for nearly six furlongs, took over coming off the turn, and dusted his rivals in the final furlong for his first grade I win under Rajiv Maragh. The 6-year-old son of Tiznow scored his biggest previous win at Belmont last year in the Kelso Handicap (gr. II), but the prestigious Met Mile was the one his connections have been looking for.
Owned by William Clifton Jr., and trained by H. James Bond, Tizway was third in the 2010 Met Mile and was also grade I-placed in the 2009 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Whisper Hill Farm and is out of the Dayjur mare Bethany.
Tackleberry, a three-time stakes winner this year, led the way through opening splits of :23.17 and :45.57. Tizway, breaking from post 11, stalked him from the outside while Stormy's Majesty, Caixa Eletronica, and Haynesfield all stayed within striking distance.
Tizway took over nearing the quarter pole (six furlongs in 1:08.66), had a four-length lead at top of the stretch, and was never challenged in the final furlong. Rodman made a big move along the inside under Channing Hill to get second at 36-1, easily besting third-place Caixa Eletronica by 5 1/2 lengths. Aikenite was another two lengths back in fourth.
The final time of 1:32.90 on the fast dirt was just three-fifths of a second off the track record and less than one-tenth off the stakes record set by Honour and Glory in 1996.
With the win, Tizway earned an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs in November.
“It was a great trip," Maragh said. "I had a good post and my horse broke well. He was always running for me; I really didn’t have to do much, just get him going at the right time and he held off pretty fine. He was really ready. My horse is more of a steady kind of horse, and he keeps picking it up gradually, so the race flow suited him pretty well. We went off decent in the first quarter and then we just gradually started picking up, and that’s running into my horse’s style. He’ll kill you with a high cruising speed, that’s what his weapon is.”
Tizway finished third in both of his previous starts this season, losing by a neck in a three-way photo March 12 in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) and then by 2 1/4 lengths in the April 16 Charles Town Classic (gr. III). Overall, he improved to 6-1-5 from 19 starts and upped his earnings to $909,274.
“He tries every time," Bond said. "He couldn’t stand up on that stuff at Charles Town and still ran a game third and just missed second. Like I say, I’m just fortunate enough to have him in my barn. (Dr. Alan Nixon) from Cornell, thank you, thank you, thank you. He helped put him back. He had a little broken, fractured wingbone. We (digitally) nerved that foot, which was the right thing to do, basically, at the time to get back for the fall. He hasn’t missed a beat since then. I gave him a little time off after the Breeders’ Cup (Dirt Mile, gr. I, fifth).
“I’ll probably look at the Whitney (gr. I, Aug. 6, Saratoga). It’s our home base. We’ll back up from the Breeders’ Cup and basically start looking backwards and try to find the right spots for him. I know this horse will run a mile and a quarter. It depends on what kind the horses are at the end of the year. You and I all know what can happen.”
Tizway paid $8.20, $5, and $3.90. The exacta (11-3) returned $358 and the trifecta (11-3-5) was worth $2,400.