Editor's Note: This article by Steve Haskin first appeared on bloodhorse.com on Dec. 13, 2001. Now that the Patriots are Super Bowl-bound and the story has been picked up by other media, we are re-posting the original.
So, what was it, you ask, that turned around the New England Patriots' season, which began at 1-3? It was none other than Tiznow's courageous victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic that served as an inspiration to the National Football League team.
When head coach Bill Belichick, a former assistant coach to Thoroughbred owner Bill Parcells, was looking for something to wake up his team and instill the fighting spirit in them, he turned to a tape of this year's Classic. So, instead of watching game films and being mesmerized by X's and O's, the Patriots found themselves watching a Thoroughbred racehorse named Tiznow battle back to turn certain defeat into victory. The Patriots haven't looked back since, winning four of their last five games, including a victory over Belichick's former team, the New York Jets.
Belichick informed his players as to the importance of the Breeders' Cup, in which the greatest equine athletes in the world gather to do battle. There before them was an athlete facing defeat square in the face, as the pride of Europe, Sakhee, appeared on his way to victory. Then, Tiznow, reached back and pulled out that something extra that only champions possess. He dug in and came back to snatch victory right at the wire.
Belichick told his players that their situation was not unlike Tiznow's; that as the season wore on, it would come down to which team wanted to win the most. Like Tiznow, the Patriots showed how badly they wanted it, and just like that, they are staring at a playoff berth and a possible shot at the Super Bowl.
Tiznow would have been proud.
Postscript: During the Christmas holiday, Tiznow's trainer Jay Robbins received a Christmas card from Belichick, which simply read: "Thanks for the inspiration."