Tiznow's Classic win enough for Horse of Year?
NEW YORK - Tiznow did what no horse has done before, becoming the first two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, in a final bid for Horse of the Year honors.
Tiznow scored a nose victory over Sakhee in the $4 million Classic on Saturday at the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park.
"His name ought to be Tiz-Awesome," said jockey Chris McCarron, who won his fifth Classic. "He gives us shivers and concern, but he's always there at the end."
The 4-year-old colt, who had been cantankerous in recent workouts, earned his third victory in six starts. He did not race from March to September because of a back injury.
After the Classic, Michael Cooper, Tiznow's principal owner, said his horse had done enough to win his second consecutive Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year.
Cooper noted that 3-year-old Point Given, the leading Horse of the Year candidate, had not beaten older horses. Point Given, however, won four consecutive $1 million Grade I stakes, including the Preakness and Belmont stakes, before being retired in August because of a tendon injury.
Meanwhile, Europeans laid claim to North American championships with victories Saturday in front of 52,987 fans, which bettered the attendance of the '90 and '95 Breeders' Cup events, also held at Belmont.
Sakhee, making his American and dirt-track debut, narrowly lost to Tiznow in the 1 1/4-mile Classic. He failed in his bid to add a Breeders' Cup title to his victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Among those beaten in Classic were favored Aptitude (eighth) and European 3-year-old star Galileo (sixth).
Europeans who likely will win Eclipse Awards as division champions are Johannesburg (Juvenile), Fantastic Light (Turf) and Banks Hill (Filly & Mare Turf).
Johannesburg, a Kentucky-bred colt, remained unbeaten in seven starts, all this year, with a 1 1/4-length score in the 1 1-16-mile Juvenile. His U.S. debut was his first start on dirt and his first race at more than six furlongs.
Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien said Johannesburg could return for next year's Kentucky Derby. In 1991 Arazi came from Europe to win the Juvenile, be voted champion 2-year-old and become the favorite for the Derby, where he finished eighth.
One of the day's disappointments was Officer, the 3-5 favorite in the Juvenile, who finished fifth for his first loss in six starts.
Officer, owned by Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia, will get a chance to polish his reputation in December in the Hollywood Futurity at Hollywood Park.
Fantastic Light, another Kentucky bred who finished fifth in the 1 1/2-mile Turf last year, held off a closing rush by Milan for a three-quarter-length win Saturday. He is owned by Godolphin Racing, which is the al Maktoum brothers of Dubai, also the owner of California-based Tempera, winner of the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies.
British-bred Banks Hill romped home by 5 1/2 lengths in the 1 1/4-mile Filly & Mare Turf to give Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia his first Breeders' Cup victory.
It was a bittersweet day, however, for the prince and trainer Bobby Frankel.
Frankel got his first Breeders' Cup win with Squirtle Squirt in the six-furlong Sprint, but he lost with favorites Aptitude; Flute, seventh in the Distaff; and You, fourth in the Juvenile Fillies. Aptitude and Flute are owned by Khalid Abdullah.
"I won a race, but I was not in a good mood to party," Frankel said Sunday.
Frankel now is 1-for-42 in Breeders' Cup starts. The prince is 1-for-32.
The other winner Saturday was Val Royal in the Mile on the grass.