Tizway missed a key prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic, had a fever and has been overshadowed by Havre de Grace and Uncle Mo, and Jim Bond isn't the least bit concerned. From his base in Saratoga, the trainer reports that Tizway is doing well, will be fine for the Classic and that he couldn't be more confident.
"If you were training the best horse in America, how would you feel?" Bond said when asking about his emotions and mind-set. "Nervous, excited, confident it's all of the above. My biggest worry is the weather and I hope I don't have to worry about a deluge. But I feel very fortunate to have this horse. He is unbelievable."
My biggest worry is the weather and I hope I don't have to worry about a deluge.
”-- Tizway's trainer Jim Bond
The only thing Tizway is suffering from is what-have-you-done-for-me-latelyitis. Now 6, this horse didn't really get good until this year, but when he hit his peak he was terrific. He won the Met Mile and came right back in the two-turn, Whitney and crushed the opposition. The runner-up was Flat Out, who came back to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup, so there was nothing phony about that victory.
Bond was prepared to go into the Gold Cup but Tizway came down with a temperature. It was hardly a big deal, but it was enough to knock him out of the race.
"I have told some friends and [owner] Mr. [Bill] Clifton that, yes, I wanted to win the Gold Cup because it is a prestigious, important race," Bond said. "But this is not a good five-week horse and he would have had to come back in five weeks for the Classic had he run in the Gold Cup. With as hard as he runs and as powerful as his races are, it's impossible for him to come back in five weeks and run the same race. Maybe this whole thing will turn out to be a blessing."
Had he won the Gold Cup he would have been the star of the day. Instead, while he was resting in his stall in Saratoga, Uncle Mo stepped up and won the Kelso, Havre de Grace was spectacular in the Beldame and Flat Out whipped his rivals in the Gold Cup. There's now talk that Tizway may be the fourth choice in the Classic behind the three stars of Gold Cup Day.
"That's fine with me," Bond said.
Bond spent Gold Cup afternoon scouting the opposition, and the horse he fears most is not Uncle Mo or Havre de Grace but Flat Out.
"As well as he ran in the Gold Cup, he's the one to beat," Bond said. "He's consistent and he's shown that he can go a mile-and-a-quarter. He's definitely the one I'm most worried about."
He's [Flat Out] consistent and he's shown that he can go a mile-and-a-quarter. He's definitely the one I'm most worried about.
”-- Tizway's trainer Jim Bond
He respects Havre de Grace and Uncle Mo but doesn't fear them.
"Havre de Grace is a great filly, she really is," he said. "But she has to go a mile-and-a-quarter versus the boys. The difference between a mile-and-an-eighth and a mile-and-a-quarter is huge. They are two totally different things.
"Uncle Mo is a very talented horse, but with him, the mile-and-a-quarter is also the million-dollar questions."
Bond could have said the exact same thing about his horse. Tizway has never won at 10 furlongs. The only time he tried it he was third in last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Bill Finley is an award-winning racing writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and Sports Illustrated. Contact him at email@example.com.