Woodward may give birth to newest star

Tiznow, Red Bullet eye replacing Point Given

Horse Racing

September 08, 2001|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

ELMONT, N.Y. - The racing world gasped and then slipped into sadness last week, when Point Given was retired with a tendon injury.

The powerful, unpredictable chestnut had become the sport's standard-bearer. In his final two races, the Haskell at Monmouth Park and the Travers at Saratoga, he drew record crowds and stirred emotions. Victories later this year against older horses and next year against international competition would have stamped Point Given as one of racing's all-time greats.

This sport sometimes takes years to recover from the loss of one of its cherished stars. But this time, at least four horses stand poised to replace Point Given on racing's lofty perch. Two race today at Belmont Park: the 4-year-olds Tiznow and Red Bullet. The others are the younger Macho Uno and Officer.

Tiznow, the reigning Horse of the Year, and Red Bullet, winner of the 2000 Preakness, face off in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes, one of three Grade I stakes on "Super Saturday" at this grand old track east of New York City.

For Tiznow, the Woodward is his first race in six months. For Red Bullet, it is his second in 14 months. Their return from injuries - back trouble for Tiznow, cracked cannon bone for Red Bullet - coincides with Point Given's retirement in a tick of fortuitous timing.

"Racing needs a star," said Joe Orseno, trainer of Red Bullet. "We don't mind at all taking over that role."

A chestnut son of Unbridled, Red Bullet is the only winner of a Triple Crown event currently racing. The only other classics winner not retired is Monarchos, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby. He won't race again until next year because of a knee fracture.

Orseno also trains the 3-year-old Macho Uno. He is one of the few horses to have beaten Point Given. After edging Point Given by a nose in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Macho Uno was voted the Eclipse award as North America's top juvenile.

An ankle injury sidelined the frisky son of Holy Bull for eight months. In his second race back, at the Pennsylvania Derby five days ago, he won convincingly. Like his older stablemate Red Bullet, Macho Uno will be looking toward the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 27 here at Belmont.

"They're both ready to step up," Orseno said. "It was tough missing some of those big races earlier in the year. But this is when we wanted our horses to be right. These races are the ones everybody remembers."

Tiznow is testament to that. In five weeks last year, he wrapped up racing's ultimate prize, Horse of the Year. He won three straight late-season races, culminating in a stirring triumph in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Nearly retired this summer with lingering back soreness, Tiznow tackles four opponents in the Woodward in his first race since March and his smashing victory in the Santa Anita Handicap.

Asked whether Tiznow, a 4-year-old California-bred, can repeat last year's heroics, the colt's trainer, Jay Robbins, said: "I just want to get through this race. I have a lot of concerns. This is a new surface for him. He's been off a long time. And this is a quality field."

In addition to Tiznow and Red Bullet, the Woodward features two other top thoroughbreds: Albert the Great, who has won six of seven races at Belmont, and Lido Palace, a trainee of the red-hot Bobby Frankel, who defeated Albert the Great in the Whitney Handicap six weeks ago at Saratoga.

Although Albert the Great and Lido Palace pose formidable threats in the Woodward, they lack the starpower of a 2-year-old sizzling in southern California. His name is Officer, winner of four impressive races for his trainer Bob Baffert and owner Saudi Arabian Prince Ahmed Salman. They are, coincidentally, the connections of Point Given.

NOTES: The $250,000 Gazelle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies and the $500,000 Man o' War Stakes on turf share today's bill at Belmont.

Fleet Renee headlines the Gazelle. A two-time Grade I winner, she is trained by Michael Dickinson at Tapeta Farm in Cecil County. He tabbed the Gazelle as Fleet Renee's final prep for the Breeders' Cup Distaff and her highly anticipated rematch with Flute, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes. ... Two other top Maryland horses also compete today, both at Delaware Park. Xtra Heat, the 3-year-old Laurel filly, perhaps headed to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, faces a tough test in the Grade III $150,000 Endine Stakes. Concerned Minister, in his first race since surgery for the removal of bone chips in both front legs, races in the $75,000 Owners' Day Handicap. His goal for the trainer-owner combination Bud Delp-Robert Meyerhoff is the Maryland Million Classic.

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