By Andrew Caulfield
When someone first gambled on the idea of sending a daughter of Cee’s Tizzy to Awesome Again, I wonder if they really expected to see the lights flash and the jackpot cascade. In fact, the lever had to be pulled a few times before the first payout, with the nick’s statistics standing at eight foals, four starters, three winners but no black-type winners by the fall of 2010.
Of course, a sample of eight foals isn’t nearly big enough to draw any firm conclusions and the nick soon began to produce dividends, with Awesome Patriot winning the Alydar S. at Hollywood Park as a 3-year-old in 2011.
Now the stats for Awesome Again’s foals out of Cee’s Tizzy mares make most impressive reading. From 17 foals of racing age, four have become black-type winners (a terrific 23.5%) and three (17.6%) have hit the graded stakes jackpot. The latest addition to the team is Bravazo, a narrow winner of Saturday’s GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds. This victory qualifies him to set out on the Triple Crown trail following in the footsteps of two other Awesome Again colts with dams by Cee’s Tizzy.
The first, Paynter, wasn’t ready for the first two legs of the Triple Crown but then made a very bold attempt to lead throughout in the 2012 GI Belmont S., losing out to Union Rags only in the last few strides. Paynter then became a GI winner in the prestigious Haskell Invitational and the sky looked to be the limit for the very progressive colt until his career was derailed by a near-fatal battle with colitis and laminitis.
A year later it was the turn of Oxbow. Although he could finish only a close fourth when he contested the 2013 Risen Star, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee contested all three legs of the Triple Crown, notably making most of the running to win the GI Preakness S. before finishing second in the Belmont S.
The original incentive for sending Cee’s Tizzy mares to Awesome Again stemmed from the fact that Cee’s Tizzy was a son of Relaunch. When Awesome Again was mated to Relaunch’s daughter Baby Zip back in 1999, the outcome was none other than Ghostzapper, the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year who–like Awesome Again–has proved such a valuable member of the Adena Springs stallion team.
Bravazo, Paynter and Oxbow are out of three different daughters of Cee’s Tizzy–Tiz o’Gold, Tizso and Tizamazing respectively–but the three graded stakes winners have more in common than just their sire and broodmare sire. The dams of Paynter and Oxbow are sisters, their dam being Cee’s Song, a mare whose repeated visits to Cee’s Tizzy provided a considerable legacy. Cee’s Song was sired by Seattle Song, a son of Seattle Slew. Seattle Slew occupies the same position in Bravazo’s pedigree, as the 1977 Triple Crown winner also sired Slew o’Gold, the sire of Bravazo’s second dam Pep o’Gold.
It seems fair to attribute much of the credit for Bravazo’s talent to the potency of the Awesome Again-Cee’s Tizzy-Seattle Slew collaboration, as the Risen Star winner comes from a family which has been unexceptional in recent generations.
Although his dam Tiz o’Gold was a seven-time winner from the ages of three to six, she cost Calumet Farm only $35,000 when offered in foal to a 75,000-dollar stallion in 2014. That stallion, of course, was Awesome Again and the foal was Bravazo. Calumet also owned Oxbow by the time he won the Preakness.
Second dam Pep o’Gold RNA’d for $8,000 as a yearling before going on to win one of her ten starts, for earnings of less than $7,000. Ginged Up, the Maryland-foaled third dam, had only one black-type earner among her ten foals.
Some of the stallions involved weren’t highly fashionable, either. Ginged Up’s sire, The Irish Lord, won only a maiden race from five starts, even though he was a brother by Bold Ruler to the champion 2-year-old filly Queen Empress.
Bravazo’s broodmare sire Cee’s Tizzy was another who started his stallion career without the benefit of a stakes success, but that didn’t stop him from rising through the ranks. As a non-graded winner, Cee’s Tizzy had to be attractively priced when he started his stallion career in 1991 and he was to spend his first nine seasons at fees ranging from $1,500 to $2,500. Then along came Tiznow, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2000 and 2001. Tiznow’s older brother Budroyale had been runner-up to Cat Thief in the 1999 Classic.
There should be no problems when Bravazo is asked to tackle further than the Risen Star’s mile and a sixteenth. Cee’s Tizzy was bred to stay quite well, as his sire Relaunch was once a close second to John Henry in the GI San Luis Rey S. over a mile and a half and Cee’s Tizzy’s second dam Tizna landed the Ladies H. over a mile and a quarter. Cee’s Tizzy’s brief racing career ended when he tackled a mile and a quarter in the 1990 Super Derby. After leading for a mile, he lost second place to Unbridled by only a neck, even though it transpired that he had suffered a career-ending knee fracture.
A mile and a quarter also suited Awesome Again very well. He won the Queen’s Plate over that distance at three, followed by the GII Saratoga H. and the Breeders’ Cup Classic at four. Now 24 years old, he covered 69 mares last year and 71 in 2016 (for 52 live foals). Indeed he hasn’t covered a three-figure book since 2008, which is hard to understand when he has been responsible for a lengthy list of GI winners. Four of them won in the red-hot competition of the Breeders’ Cup, with Ghostzapper taking the Classic, Wilko the Juvenile and Round Pond and Ginger Punch the Distaff.
With a figure of 1.98, he ranks a creditable 11th on the Blood-Horse‘s list of sires by cumulative Average Earnings Index, and the veteran son of Deputy Minister also basks in some reflected glory from his own son Ghostzapper, who ranks sixth with a figure of 2.19.