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Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Will Tizway have his way?

By Bob Ehalt

A racing season comes together in bits and pieces.

This weekend we'll start to know more about a puzzling division of older horses as Saturday's historic Whitney Invitational Handicap ushers in a four-week span that will also feature the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and the Woodward back at the Spa.

Much like the 3-year-old colts, the older guys lack a clear cut leader, especially in the aftermath of a career-ending injury to Hollywood Gold Cup winner First Dude.

That could change after the Whitney, though. In Tizway, a dazzling winner of the Metropolitan Handicap way back on Memorial Day, the division has a potential star waiting in the wings.

Whether he'll be able to realize that potential around two turns against a strong group of rivals is the question the Whitney will answer.

The field for the Whitney will be drawn Wednesday, but likely starters include Duke of Mischief, who beat in Tizway around two turns in the Charles Town Classic, Apart, from the same connections who gave us Blame a year ago, Suburban winner Flat Out, Friend Or Foe, Giant Oak, Headache, Mission Impazible, Morning Line, Rail Trip and possibly Hymn Book.

Last’s year field was significantly smaller, but it had far more star power with Blame, Quailty Road, Musket Man, Haynesfield and even a money-burning Kentucky Derby winner named Mine That Bird in the field. Yet if Tizway, who is trained by Bond, James Bond, can prevail against a contentious field Saturday he would at least draw abreast with the leaders of the 2010 division. His win in the Met Mile was that good, and if he can confirm that it wasn’t just a one-turn glitch, we might finally have a male horse worthy of some acclaim.

In a sport that has been dominated of late by its distaff runners and could sorely use a mucho macho hero or two, that just might turn out to be the biggest news of the weekend.

A win and a loss for Repole

One of the more difficult to accept aspects of racing is that sometimes joy and victory can come at a price.

For Mike Repole, there was sheer bliss last Saturday when his 2-year-old colt Giant Surprise pulled away in the stretch to win by 4 1/4 lengths as the 5-2 third-choice in an eye-opening career debut. The Queens native had mentioned the son of Giant’s Causeway as a horse to watch in a previous blog post here and the horse’s final time of 1:10.23 for six furlongs indicated he had a bright future ahead of him.

Unfortunately , Giant Surprise had be vanned off after the race as he suffered a condylar fracture of his left front cannon bone and had surgery on Monday. There’s hope that the injury was not career-ending, but the prospects for a colt that seemed to have so much promise is now covered with a cloud of uncertainty.

A tough as the injury might be for Repole to accept, he can at least take solace in knowing he has the nation’s most exciting 2-year-old in Overdriven, and could have quite a daily double on Travers Day with Uncle Mo in the King’s Bishop and Stay Thirsty in the Mid-Summer Derby.

It’s all part of the rollercoaster ride racing can take you on, exposing you to a jarring mix of emotions that can strike without a moment’s notice in the most unlikely of places -- including the winner’s circle.