The Lane’s End Weekender Pedigree: Gemologist
If Gemologist follows his success in Saturday’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct with victory in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, yearling and 2-year-old buyers are surely going to become even more obsessed with super-sizing their auction purchases.
The reason that buyers will be even hotter for big athletes is that Gemologist is a whopper. Standing 17 hands and weighing 1,300 pounds, Gemologist clearly never met an oat he didn’t like.
That’s not surprising because Gemologist is by Tiznow, one of the biggest stallions in Kentucky, both in size and in reputation. A smashing racehorse who has parlayed his athletic ability into a blossoming career at stud, Tiznow is the sire of young stallions on nearly everyone’s list at present, with sons like Tiz Wonderful and Colonel John siring offspring of size and substance that immediately catch the eye of buyers and their advisers.
The Tiz Wonderful stock have followed up on their strong showing last year at the yearling auctions with high demand as 2-year-olds in training, and presumably a few of them will be testing their apparent talent in maiden races in the coming weeks at Keeneland or Churchill Downs.
The seeming precocity of the Tiz Wonderful stock is another facet of Tiznow’s influence that is captivating breeders and buyers because these horses are typically quite large, which usually translates into “give them plenty of time and perhaps they’ll make a nice 5-year-old.”
But that has not been the rule with the offspring of Tiznow, who sired champion juvenile filly Folklore in his first crop of racers and whose Wood Memorial winner Gemologist ran down the lane to victory at Churchill Downs last November in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
And whereas Folklore was an atypical Tiznow, typier and more muscular in keeping with her broodmare sire Storm Cat, Gemologist and many other Tiznows are just like their sire: tall, rangy horses with great bone and plenty of body.
But in contrast to his present success, the combination of Tiznow’s size and his pedigree made more than a few people – both breeders and observers of the sport – cast a critical eye on Tiznow when he went to stud. There was no question that the big brown horse had all the racing class required to be a sire. He had won the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice, defeating Giant’s Causeway among others, along with the Santa Anita Handicap and more than $6.4 million.
On the other hand, Tiznow was really big and did not appear to have the hickory toughness of his full brother Budroyale, a G2 winner who made 52 starts, and they were sired by the Relaunch stallion Cee’s Tizzy. Even allowing that breeders make too much of the concept of “sires of sires,” Cee’s Tizzy was a check on nearly everyone’s enthusiasm for Tiznow. The horse’s sire had not won a stakes, although Cee’s Tizzy ran third in the G1 Super Derby.
How important is winning stakes to becoming a sire of sires? Only two non-stakes winners are sires of contemporary major commercial stallions, and those two are Danzig (unbeaten in three starts, no stakes) and Cee’s Tizzy.
So in reaching this plateau of success and general acceptance as one of the most desirable stallion influences by breeders and owners, Tiznow has overcome major obstacles in the preconceptions about his potential as a sire, and he could only do that by proving that his offspring possessed outstanding merit on the racetrack.
In that regard, the stallion was unusually blessed with the appearance of his champion daughter Folklore in his first crop, as her speed and early maturity took the fancy of racing folk by storm and proved a great aid in keeping a regular supply of quality mares in his book.
Tiznow was also had a little help from some of his friends. He stands at WinStar Farm as a WinStar – Taylor Made joint venture, and the stallion has clearly profited from the combination of these breeding and sales powerhouses. Possessing top-notch broodmares and top-notch clients, each operation has offered Tiznow the opportunity to climb the ladder of stallion success, and now the sire sits in the enviable position of being one of the most desirable stallions in the country with a stud fee of $75,000.
To reach this point, Tiznow has sired 39 stakes winners, including such major winners as Well Armed (Dubai World Cup), Tizway (Whitney), Colonel John (Travers), Morning Line (Carter), Bullsbay (Whitney), and Da’ Tara (Belmont). Siring top-flight performers such as these is the hallmark of the contemporary commercial stallion; nothing less is acceptable. And the best Tiznow stock generally show their form going nine furlongs or more.
In that regard, Tiznow has become the primary challenger to the A.P. Indy line for supremacy as a classic influence, and Gemologist won the Wood at the direct expense of Godolphin’s Alpha, who is a son of the A.P. Indy stallion Bernardini.
With his consistent ability to sire stock that relish the classic distances, Tiznow has shown that he has returned his male line to his historic roots, as he traces back umpteen generations to the great sire and classic winner Man o’ War and his sire Fair Play.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
Copyright © 2011, Frank Mitchell