Catching Up with 2000-01 Breeders' Cup Classic Winner Tiznow

To celebrate the 40th running of the Breeders' Cup, the TDN will share a photo and catch up with a past winner in each of the 40 days leading up
to the event. Today, we have two-time Classic winner Tiznow.
Sarah Andrew


“The American Horse of the Year and the Arc winner are heads apart with a furlong to go in the Classic… Here's the wire, desperately close. Tiznow wins it for America!”

Chances are you can actually hear Tom Durkin's legendary call as you read those words. And chances are listening to the call now will give you goosebumps all over again and bring you straight back to that amazing moment. Tiznow became an American hero that day at Belmont Park, just weeks after what would become known as 9/11.

Still the first and only horse to win back-to-back Breeders' Cup Classics, Tiznow's story is far more than one great victory. The robust California-bred's career reads like a modern-day racing soap opera: sandwiched between the Eclipse Awards, the Grade I races, and the two Classics, he was famously reluctant to train, lost his owner three days after his first Breeders' Cup win, and suffered a back injury that kept him on the sidelines for six months. He was quirky, he was game, and he was flat-out wonderful.

With perhaps a bit more modest pedigree than many stallions, Tiznow also wasn't guaranteed to stand in Kentucky. Thank goodness he did, though. Among his offspring are Breeders' Cup winners Folklore and Tourist and he's proving to be a darn good broodmare sire as well. Tiznow was pensioned from stud duty around this time of the fall in 2020. He remains at WinStar, where the affection stallion manager Larry McGinnis has for the big bay is palpable.

“I led him off the van when he arrived at WinStar,” said McGinnis. “It's been a pleasure to take care of him his whole life.

“He's very good boy. He's retired now and when he's ready to come in the barn, he walks down to the gate and lets us know. His paddock has a hill in it. If we can't see him from the barn, he's on the other side of the hill and he doesn't want to come in. If he's at the top of the hill, we know he'll want to come in soon. We just wait for him to walk down to the gate, because that's when he's ready for us to bring him in, not before. He knows if it's going to get hot and he'll want to come in. We let him tell us.

“He's one of the smartest horses I've been around, probably the smartest. He's just a very cool, collected horse, always in control. He always looks at things and assesses them.

“He didn't like us riding or exercising him when he retired, so we stopped that pretty quick with him. He let his opinion be known. He felt that was work and he'd done that and didn't want to do it anymore.

“He's very, very smart with a good temperament. He was also a very, very fertile horse. One time he got 15-20 mares in foal in a row. That doesn't happen very often.

“He's just always been very intelligent, very cool and collected about everything he's done. It's just a pleasure to be around him.”

Tiznow (1997 bay horse, Cee's Tizzy–Cee's Song, by Seattle Song)

Lifetime record: Horse of the Year, Ch. 3yo colt, Ch. older male, MGISW, 15-8-4-2, $6,427,830

Breeders' Cup connections: B-Cecilia Straub Rubens (CA); O-Michael Cooper and Cecilia Straub-Rubens (2000)/Cees Stable LLC (2001); T-Jay Robbins; J-Chris McCarron.

Current location: WinStar Farm, Versailles, Ky.

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