Last year's Classic winner Tiznow (right) noses out Sakhee to win this year's running of the same race.

Last year's Classic winner Tiznow (right) noses out Sakhee to win this year's running of the same race.

Mike Corrado

Tiznow...Again; Victory Before 52,987 Fans at Belmont Park.

In true classic fashion and eerily similar to last year's victory, Tiznow rallied stoutly in the lane to defeat Sakhee by a nose in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). This time however, he had to run down his rival, whereas a year ago he held off Giant's Causeway at Churchill Downs. He becomes the first horse in history to win back-to-back Classics with Saturday's race, witnessed by 52,987.

Coming off a pair of third-place finishes, Tiznow was fresh for this year's Classic. He was making just his third start since winning the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in early March. Breaking from post 10 in the 13 horse field, Tiznow was sharp out of the gate, grabbing third position early on. The early pace was brisk considering the way the track played during the day. Orientate and Albert the Great set the early fractions of :23.27 and :47.04. Jockey Chris McCarron kept Tiznow just off the leaders and wide.

As Orientate faded down the backstretch, Albert the Great took over, getting six furlongs in 1:11.32 and maintained his lead into the stretch. Sakhee, with Frankie Dettori aboard, made his run from the outside, and swept to the lead in the stretch. However, Tiznow never wavered, digging in to run down the Arc de Triomphe winner in dramatic fashion.

The official margin was a nose. It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Albert the Great in third, with another 2 3/4 lengths to fourth-place finisher Macho Uno.

The complete order of finish was Tiznow, Sakhee, Albert the Great, Macho Uno, Guided Tour, Galileo, Include, favored Aptitude, Gander, Black Minnaloushe, A Fleet's Dancer, Orientate, and Freedom Crest.

"He's game, he's very game," said winning trainer Jay Robbins, who joined the late Charlie Whittingham to become the only trainers to saddle two Classic winners.

"It was a very close finish," McCarron said. "He ran an outstanding race. He's wonderful but he's been cantankerous of late. I do think he is spoiled and he does get bored. Some horses are more intelligent than others and he's one of those more intelligent ones. He gets bored easily and he knows as soon as he goes off the track, he's done and it is boring in the barn. It was a tough battle. Sakhee was awesome. To be honest, at the eighth pole I thought I was riding for second. Sakhee seemed to have all the momentum."

Simon Crisford, racing manager for Godolphin Racing, said Sakhee, "That was tough--He ran a fabulous race. So close but so far but he lost nothing in defeat. The boss (Sheikh Mohammed) said to me 'the picture is now clear why we chose to run him in the Classic and Fantastic Light in the Turf.' You can't make any excuses. He was just inched out but it was a very good effort. He's done for the year and we'll talk to Sheikh Hamdan about future plans."

Tiznow, a 4-year-old California-bred son of Cee's Tizzy, paid $15.80. The exacta with Sakhee returned $140.50. Trained by Jay Robbins, Tiznow was bred by the late Cecilia Straub-Rubens and now races for Cee's Stable.

Trainer Bobby Frankel said an unfavorable post position contributed to Aptitude's loss. "He ran 100 yards farther than any of the others," Frankel said of the colt who is scheduled to be retired to stud next year.

Trainer Nick Zito said Albert the Great, who is being retired to Three Chimneys Farm, "ran his race, just like I thought he would."

Sixth-place finisher Include returned to Maryland with a disappointed trainer Bud Delp. "I don't know what the rider was doing," Delp said of John Velazquez. "The Belmont rail was the kiss of death and he never left it. I knew at the five-eighths pole I had no chance. He was stuck on the rail and never made a move to get off of it. You know, I was at Belmont for two days and he never came by the barn. I had to call him on my cell phone and talk to him." The trainer said owner Robert Meyerhoff plans to keep Include in training next year, as long as he remains sound."

Joe Orseno said he was pleased with Macho Uno's effort, considering that he only raced three times this year and was facing older horses in the Classic. The colt will go to Frank Sronach's farm near Ocala, Florida to be prepared for a 2002 campaign that will include the top races for older horses in Florida, at Oaklawn Park, and Pimlico.

Dual Derby winner Galileo will enter stud at Coolmore Stud in Ireland.

Classic Chart, From Equibase

Breeders' Cup Classic notes from the Breeders' Cup site