Jockey Jose Lezcano hasn't ridden much at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, but after watching races all day at the Midwest oval, he knew the outside path was the place to be aboard $500,000 Indiana Derby (gr. II) contender Tiz Shea D.
Video: Indiana Derby (G2)
In looking over a field of eight sophomores for the 1 1/16-mile event, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and assistant Kenny McCarthy saw there wasn't much pace aside from speedball Mr. Z , and decided to let their contender wing right along up there with him if the race unfolded that way.
Both decisions proved fortuitous July 18, as Tiz Shea D tracked the pace set by Ohio Derby winner Mr. Z and then ran him down with a sweeping outside move en route to a 1 1/4-length victory, despite being floated wide around the turn by his erratic rival. The final time was 1:43.02 on a sloppy track.
Tiz Shea D, a son of Tiznow who races for Brous Stable, Gary Barber, and Wachtel Stable, exited a runner-up finish after setting the pace June 2 in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Belmont Park. He collected his first graded score and his first win since breaking his maiden at first asking this past February at Parx Racing. Between victories were three decent efforts in graded events—a runner-up finish in the Gotham Stakes (gr. III), a fifth in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (gr. I), and a fourth in the Peter Pan (gr. II).
"He's been improving race by race," McCarthy said. "Looking at the (past performances), Bill said it didn't look like there was a lot of speed in here, and our horse had shown some speed, so we told Jose, 'Go ahead and let him be happy near the front.'
"You know, Mr. Z is a great horse, and when you get in a dogfight with him, it's going to be tough. Jose gave our horse a little breather on the frontside and then when he went for him. He tried to get by him as fast as he could and not play around with it."
Mr. Z, coming off that Ohio Derby victory June 20 and carrying 124 pounds (as did Divining Rod , Island Town, and Far Right), broke like a shot and went straight to the lead for a quarter in :24.21 and a half in :48.31. Headed into the first turn, it looked as if those two might engage in a battle for the lead, but Tiz Shea D rated well for Lezcano under his 117-pound impost and settled into second 1 1/2 lengths back of the leader.
"The horse has been working very good, and when he broke out of the gates, he broke very well," Lezcano said. "I've been watching races all day and I thought the outside was better. When I went out, he won the race."
Mr. Z still had the advantage headed for home through three-quarters in 1:12.08, but bore out strongly and drifted Tiz Shea D wide coming off the turn. He did not halt his rival's momentum, however, and Tiz Shea D dug in to put away Mr. Z while running a 1:36.81 mile.
Tiz Shea D returned $10.80, $5.40, and $3.40 as the 4-1 third choice, while 7-2 second choice Mr. Z paid $4.80 and $2.80, with Divining Rod, the 7-5 favorite, returning $2.60. Bold Conquest was fourth, followed home by Island Town, Far Right, Alabaster, and Deliverance Day.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Green Lantern Stables out of the A.P. Indy mare Ender's Sister. He went through the auction ring four times, first as a weanling at the 2012 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, where he sold for $67,000 to Wesley Melcher from the Paramount Sales consignment. He then failed to meet his reserve for $117,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling sale when consigned by Hidden Brook, and was also an RNA for $100,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale when consigned by Double Infinity Ranch.
Finally, Tiz Shea D sold for $65,000 to Daniel Shea at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale from Paul Sharp's consignment. He broke his maiden for Shea, and then was purchased privately by his current connections. His record now stands at two wins and two seconds from six starts, with earnings of $460,056.