Pamela Ziebarth had just gotten into buying her own Thoroughbreds at auction when she spotted one she really liked — a bay daughter of Boston Harbor at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2002. The hammer fell at $100,000 for the filly, and Ziebarth was the top bidder.
With the help of Berkey Bloodstock, Ziebarth had already purchased one other filly around the same time.
“We just got another one,” she said that day. “Seems like an addiction.”
Someone remarked that it was “a healthy addiction.” And the name stuck.
Healthy Addiction grew up to become a fine racehorse, but she hit her best stride in her last year of competition. She rattled off four stakes wins in 2006, including the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational, and was second in the G1 Vanity to top racemare Hollywood Story.
After a 12th-place finish behind Round Pond in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs, Healthy Addiction retired to the breeding shed. She had earned over $1 million in a 23-race career, winning ten of those starts. The mare was Ziebarth's first success, but she would not be her last.
Ziebarth's life has been intertwined with horses for a long time. Her mother, Cecilia Straub-Rubens, bred and owned Horse of the Year Tiznow. The California-bred son of Cee's Tizzy won back-to-back Breeders' Cup Classics – both of them in memorable stretch battles – and collected over $6 million in purses. Ziebarth's father was also part of the industry, becoming involved with racing in the 1960s.
Cee's Tizzy blood can be found in many of Ziebarth's top horses, including graded winners Ambitious Brew, a son of Tiznow's full brother Tizbud; Tiz Flirtatious; and Tizdejavu. Tiznow currently stands at WinStar Farm for a fee of $75,000.
When Straub-Rubens passed away in 2000, Ziebarth inherited her mother's racing stable – becoming a co-owner of Tiznow – and began to purchase horses of her own.
Healthy Addiction was Ziebarth's first Grade 1 winner, but Tiz Flirtatious was her first success as a homebred. By Tizbud, a full brother to Tiznow, out of Masquerade Belle, whom Ziebarth had purchased as a yearling, Tiz Flirtatious won eight races and nearly $780,000. In her biggest racetrack triumph, she defeated Breeders' Cup runner-up Marketing Mix in the G1 Rodeo Drive Stakes.
“She's very special,” Ziebarth said of Tiz Flirtatious, who is currently in foal to Scat Daddy.
Five-year-old My Sweet Addiction was not the first foal out of her stakes-winning dam, Healthy Addiction. First came Tiz an Addiction, then Baron Von Awesome, a colt by Awesome Again. She also has younger half-siblings named My Habit and Jagger Swagger, both by Tizdejavu.
Prior to My Sweet Addiction's May 9 start in the Grade 1 Vanity, the speedy bay daughter of Tiznow had only raced in stakes company twice before. In her most recent effort in a graded race, she was sixth in the Grade 2 Santa Monica Jan. 19, finishing well behind winner Sam's Sister that day.
But Ziebarth believes the Santa Monica was a throwout race. The mare was uncomfortable in the blinkers they were trying and became “claustrophobic” around the rivals she could not see. Besides the Santa Monica, the consistent mare had always finished in the money.
It was a bold move to enter My Sweet Addiction in the Vanity against the likes of two-time champion Beholder. The competition eased a little when Beholder scratched a few days prior to the race due to a fever, but they still had to face Warren's Veneda, an open-lengths winner in three prior starts this year.
Jumping into Grade 1 company was a risk, but Ziebarth felt they had to try. “You don't know unless you do it,” she said.
My Sweet Addiction broke sharply and commanded the pace right out of the gate. She hit the far turn still in front, and stayed there. Warren's Veneda couldn't catch her, nor could the fast-closing Gas Total, who just edged the odds-on favorite for second.
Nearly a decade after Healthy Addiction had finished second in the Vanity, “her daughter came along and won it for her,” Ziebarth said. Just like her dam, My Sweet Addiction has hit her best stride at age five.
“It was insane,” the owner said. “We're so pleased with the outcome.”
My Sweet Addiction's personal groom, Jose “Vinny” Castaneda, has been with the family of trainer Martin Jones barn since the 1960s and has seen a lot of great horseflesh over the years. He's a kind of security blanket for the mare, walking over with her before races and keeping her company. She knows him and trusts him.
Castaneda was the only groom in the shedrow the day Ziebarth went to visit My Sweet Addiction for the first time.
“Let me show you the best horse in the barn,” the groom said.
To her confusion, he began to walk away from the talented Tiz Flirtatious. Instead, the groom took Ziebarth to the stall of My Sweet Addiction, the daughter of her beloved Healthy Addiction.
“This is a champion. This is the best horse in the barn,” Castaneda told Ziebarth.
“He knew from day one.”
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