How Tiznow became a Kentucky stud
Two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow isn't your typical thoroughbred and neither is the deal that sent him to stud.
Corporate America makes deals on the golf course; American thoroughbred breeders often make theirs in the early morning on the backside.
WinStar Farm Vice-President and Bloodstock and Racing Manger Doug Cauthen was taking an extra long look at Tiznow as he came off the track on the Friday morning before the Breeders' Cup. He also noticed Frank Taylor of Taylor Made Farm near the rail devoting an equal amount of attention to the colt. Like two poker players a card away from the jackpot, they nodded at each other.
Cauthen approached Taylor to inquire about putting a double-team on Tiznow's principal owner Michael Cooper to bring the California bred to Kentucky for his stud career. Before Tiznow went into the starting gate, an agreement in principle was unfolding, but not finished.
"Doug was the point man on this," explained Duncan Taylor of Taylor Made. "He talked with Frank and Frank liked his ideas. Frank then told us and it started in motion. ' "Before the Classic we started talking how we both kind of hoped to make a play for him," Cauthen recalls. "Then it dawned on me that we were two strong forces that aren't that competitive with each other in a lot of ways and it might make sense to join forces. Plus we were already working together with Kris S."
Taylor Made and WinStar had a successful arrangement with Kris S. after the Taylor family brought the stallion from Florida to stand for the Preston Brothers at Prestonwood Farm, which is now, the Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner owned WinStar in Versailles, Ky.
As soon as Tiznow edged Sakhee at the finish line to become the first back-to-back winner of the $4 million Classic, Cauthen shifted into high gear with his partnership plan.
"The next week at the Keeneland sales, every moment I had between trying to buy horses and them (the Taylors) trying to sell, we would have a mini-meeting in the midst of the sales," Cauthen said. "Then we met with Michael Cooper and (Cooper's bloodstock advisor) John Fulton at the sales. They liked what we both brought to the table."
"Both teams had something to offer," said Taylor. "He (Cooper) saw we had the marketing/sales aspect covered and Winstar has the broodmares and they also race. And on top of that, they are buyers and breeders. I think all of this was a real appeal because he wanted the opportunity to control some of the horse and he will. It will help all of us in long term value by keeping some of the horse."
"They have more man power over there and they've done a great job of promoting their stallions Saint Ballado and Unbridled's Song," Cauthen adds. "And we are strong financially with a great broodmare band. There were six or seven other farms competing for this deal, but two worked out better than one. The synergy was there. I think he (Cooper) is looking at this like we are, that is how much money and fun there'll be down the road with Tiznow's progeny in five, 10, 20 years."
Cooper and Cee's Stable will control 50 percent of the syndicate with Winstar and Taylor Made dividing the other half. The farms beat out, among others, Gainesway and Ashford to make the deal. "I didn't ask who we were up against, I just wanted to put our best foot forward," said Cauthen.
Taylor points to this formula of marketing and broodmares as similar to that of venerable Claiborne Farm: "They've had success after success through this kind of control. This way they can protect the horses they want to race or sell and give them every chance without pushing anything to insure their breeding futures. They have the stallions and mares necessary to get a good mating."
If winning the Classic for the second straight time wasn't enough to make him an attractive stallion prospect, Tiznow's dam Cee's Song sold for $2.5 million and his full sister, a weanling, sold for $950,000 at Keeneland November.
"He (Tiznow) is a monster to look at up close. And the way his dam and half sister sold authenticates the full pedigree," Cauthen said.
"Not only is he good looking but so is his dam and his full sister has excellent conformation," Taylor notes. "Conformation means so much in the industry right now. With Tiznow's record and good family, it all fit together."
And Taylor is wasting no time in striking while the iron is hot. He is planning media packages and considering web site chats involving trainer Jay Robbins and jockey Chris McCarron as ways of letting breeders know Tiznow is at WinStar and getting ready for business.
"You can't take anything for granted in this business. Look at some of the experts who had written him (Tiznow) off before the Classic. It can change in a heartbeat and we aren't overlooking anything in promoting the only two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic."
"We are going to price him very reasonably and emphasize mare selection," Cauthen said. "I'm happy and proud to be a part of this. All of us at WinStar are, especially with Tiznow being the first stallion acquisition for us." He joins stallions such as Distorted Humor, Victory Gallop and of course, Kris S that came with the farm when it was purchased from the Prestons.
Losing a few hours sleep to get up before dawn and see Tiznow gallop one more time has paid off for Cauthen. As any good horseman knows in the corporate world of jeans and hardboots there is no time to make it to the tee.