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Tizway Wins Met Mile On Very Fast Belmont Track

TIZWAY, fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs last fall and third in two Graded stakes this year, turned in the second fastest clocking in the history of the $500,000 Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park on Monday. (AP Images)"]

The son of two time BC Classic winner, TIZNOW, won the 118 year old race in 1:32.90 by 2-3/4 lengths over longshot RODMAN, with CAIXA ELECTRONICA a distant third.

Tiznow’s sizzling mile was only .09 seconds slower than Honour and Glory’s Met Mile record clocking of 1:32.81, set in 1996 and only .64 seconds off NAJRAN’S Belmont main-track one mile record of 1:32.24, set in 2003.

While Tizway stalked the early pace of TACKLEBERRY through a half mile in a moderately fast 45.57, he took over on the turn and instantly hit another gear, reaching 3/4 of a mile in a blazing 1:08.66. But he saved his best for last, finishing off his Met with a strong final quarter mile clocked in 24.24 to achieve his near record clocking.

While the Belmont racing surface was producing very fast times all afternoon—including a mind numbing 6 furlong clocking in 1:09.66 by the cheapest claiming fillies on the grounds---it is rare to see any horse close his final half mile of a one mile race in 47.33 seconds, especially a horse who was involved in the early pace.

Winning jockey Rajiv Maragh said:  “It was a great trip. I had a good post and my horse broke well. He was always running for me – I really didn’t have to do much, just get him going at the right time. . .When I went to the turn, he was ready. He was really ready.”

The Met has had a glorious history and is considered one of the three most important races in America for dirt milers, linked specifically with the BC Dirt Mile and the Cigar Mile at Belmont in the Fall. Among the horses who have won this race are more than three dozen Hall of Famers, including KELSO, FOREGO, CARRY BACK, EQUIPOISE, STYMIE, NATIVE DANCER, TOM FOOL, GALLANT MAN, ARTS AND LETTERS,  and HOLY BULL to name just 10.

William L. Clifton, Jr., winning owner of favored Tizway explained the performance of his horse quite succinctly: “He’s been running with the big boys his whole career. Today, he was the big boy!”

Indeed and with his win in the Met Mile---the first Breeders’ Cup Challenge race in North America this year---Tizway is guaranteed a berth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, with pre-entry and entry fees waived, plus a $10,000 travel allowance. This is the first year that such perks are part of the “Win and You’re In” BC Challenge program.

In addition to the Met Mile, there were two other stakes on the Memorial Day weekend with more than a little national significance.

* At Hollywood Park on Saturday, another fast horse, SIDNEY’S CANDY was caught right on the wire by longshot RYHILL DREAMER in the $150,000 American Handicap at one mile on the turf.  Both horses seem poised to meet again later in the Hollywood meet, or at Del Mar during the summer although Sidney’s Candy is versatile enough to compete in any race at a middle distance on turf, dirt, a synthetic surface.

* At Lone Star Park in Texas on Monday, the 8 year old gelding AWESOME GEM rallied in a roughly run race to win the $300,000 Lone Star Handicap by a length over FLAT OUT, with GAME ON DUDE third.

Awesome Gem, ridden by Robbie Albarado, had to withstand a claim of foul from Martin Garcia who had to check Game On Dude when the winner came over on him in mid stretch. Awesome Gem now has career earnings of more than $2.5 million with no sign that he is going to be derailed from making his fifth start in a Breeders’ Cup race this fall.