Tizway and Flat Out, the first two finishers in the Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I), appear headed for a rematch in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 1.
On the morning after Tizway's second straight grade I victory in Saratoga's Aug. 6 Whitney, trainer Jim Bond was quick to confirm his plans to take the 6-year-old son of Tiznow to the Gold Cup. The Whitney was Tizway's first stakes win at 1 1/8 miles and followed his victory in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) over one mile at Belmont Park on Memorial Day.
“I believed in my heart he could get 1 1/8 miles, and you keep reading a lot of the expert handicappers and lot of other people doubting him,” said Bond, who had previously won the Whitney in 1997 with Will’s Way. “It was just so fantastic to watch him pour it on. At the eighth-pole, it looked like there was a possibility (Flat Out) was going to outrun him, and he just kind of kicked in again. I just can’t tell you how great it feels.”
Meanwhile, Flat Out’s trainer Scooter Dickey was already looking ahead to a rematch with Tizway in the JCGC.
“There’s nothing set in stone, either the Iselin (gr. III at Monmouth Park Aug. 20) or Woodward (gr. I at Saratoga Sept. 3),” said Dickey, who was scheduled to take Flat Out back to his Monmouth Park stable later in the day. “The Jockey Club Gold Cup, definitely. That will probably be our last one before the Breeders’ Cup.”
Tizway's three-length victory made him the first to accomplish the Met Mile/Whitney double since In Excess in 1991, a year after Criminal Type pulled off the same feat.
Fourteen horses have won both the Met Mile and Whitney, including legends Carry Back, Kelso, Stymie, Devil Diver, Equipoise, and the fillies Gallorette and Black Maria.
Bond offered a simple explanation for Tizway’s newly found consistency: the horse, previously plagued by foot injuries, is now completely sound.
“He’s fit. Believe it or not, I’ve already booked his works through the Gold Cup,” said Bond, holding up his schedule. “This morning, I was here at 3:30. There are his Gold Cup works already. When you can do that with a horse, you’ve got a big edge. When you gotta' say, ‘Well, today, we’ve got to jog. We can’t do this. Things aren’t good enough.’ It’s a big difference, especially when you are running against Grade I-type fields.”
On a track that was rated fast but had been producing slow times all day, the final clocking of 1:52.43 made it the third-slowest since the Whitney was switched from 10 furlongs in 1955.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup would be Tizway’s first start at 1 ¼ miles since his third-place finish behind Summer Bird and Quality Road in the 2009 edition of the race. Bond believes the horse will handle the added furlong.
“He’ll run all day,” said Bond. “He’ll go two miles. He’s got a high cruising speed. He gets that head down. He’s sound. I can train him now. I could train him today.”
Like Bond with Tizway, Dickey said he always thought Flat Out, who entered the Whitney off a rousing score in the Suburban (gr. II) at Belmont in July, is a talented horse who had been hindered by nagging injuries.
“I’ve always believed in him,” said Dickey, who trains the 5-year-old for Preston Stables. “He proved me right. We always thought he was a good horse. He just always had so many troubles. He’s finally healthy on his feet. He had a lot of things. He had a problem in each foot at one time or another. Hopefully, those are in the past.”
Elsewhere, trainer John Kimmel said Friend or Foe, who set the pace before finishing fourth, was in good shape a day afterward. The 4-year-old colt was pipped for third by a nose to late-running Giant Oak .
Kimmel said the slow time meant the horses in the race didn’t handle the track well.
Trainer Nick Zito was trying to make sense of last-place finish by Morning Line . He said the 4-year-old Tiznow colt will undergo some testing and then would probably be sent to owner Will Farish’s Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky for further evaluation.
“Obviously, he’s not the same horse,” Zito said of the Carter Handicap (gr. I) winner. Morning Line pressed Friend Or Foe through six furlongs before giving way and finishing 11th, nearly 28 lengths behind Tizway.
“We’re all disappointed, the stable’s all disappointed. I hate to use the word embarrassed, I’ve never used that word in a horse race. But he’s not the same horse."