Trainer James Bond believed Tizway was "an unbelievable racehorse" and was champing at the bit to show the rest of the world just how unbelievable at next week's Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
He won't get that opportunity.
Tizway's career came to an abrupt end Tuesday when he was diagnosed with a strain of the suspensory ligament of his left foreleg that will force him out of the Breeders' Cup. He will now be retired to stud at B. Wayne Hughes's Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.
"The saddest part of it all is I had one more step on the ladder to show everybody this is an unbelievable race horse," Bond said by phone Tuesday from Saratoga. "Hopefully, his foals turn out to be half of what he is."
The injury was detected Tuesday following Tizway's regular two-mile gallop at Saratoga, one day in advance of his final workout for the Breeders' Cup. After standing in a tub of ice in his stall as he normally does following his morning training, Tizway was found to have some heat and swelling in his left foreleg. An ultrasound revealed the strain.
"I could give him two months off and he'd be okay," Bond said. "Unfortunately, the Breeders' Cup is next week."
Tizway on Monday was pre-entered for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, where a victory would have most likely cemented Horse of the Year honors for the 6-year-old son of Tiznow. Earlier this year, Tizway won the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational at Saratoga.
Bond had planned to run Tizway in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Oct. 1, but was forced to miss that race due to a temperature the week before. Tizway missed very little training time and even shipped to Belmont Park for a one-mile workout over the main track on Oct. 12.
"This horse has been magnificent, I do mean magnificent," Bond said. "He was training so I good. I thought I was so smart getting that work in at Belmont. I loved the way he came out of it, he was going to go three-quarters [Wednesday], put him on a truck on Monday, and hopefully kick butt on Saturday."
Tizway, owned by Bond's long-time client William Clifton Jr., retires with a record of 7-1-5 from 20 starts and career earnings of $1,359,274.
Tizway suffered from several infirmities in his career, the most serious being a broken wing bone in his foot. But since overcoming that last year, he won the Grade 2 Kelso in October 2010 before finishing fifth as the second choice in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
This year, he finished third in the Gulfstream Park Handicap and the Charles Town Classic before his dynamic victory in the Metropolitan Handicap, where his final time of 1:32.90 was the second-fastest clocking in the 118-year history of the Met Mile. He followed that up with a three-length victory in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational at Saratoga on Aug. 6, which, unfortunately, turned out to be his swan song.