Tizway pulled away in the stretch and stormed to victory in the $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park on Monday.
The 6-year-old son of Tiznow left his rivals in the dust once he made the turn for home and covered the mile in a scorching 1:32.90 — the second-fastest time in the 118-year-old history of the race. The record of 1:32.81 was set by Honour and Glory in 1996.
A year ago, Tizway finished third in the Metropolitan Handicap behind Quality Road, who won in a speedy 1:33.11. This time, the horse trained by H. James Bond came through with a dazzling performance of his own in winning by 2¾ lengths over Rodman. Caixa Eletronica was third, with Aikenite fourth in the field of 11.
Ridden by Rajiv Maragh, Tizway ended a three-race losing streak with his first win since taking the Kelso Handicap at Belmont last October. In fact, Tizway just loves Belmont, where he has picked up four of his six career victories.
"I had a good post and my horse broke well," Maragh said. "He was always running for me — I really didn't have to do much, just get him going at the right time and he held off pretty fine. It was pretty straight forward — I broke out of the gate, I just ran a straight line, dropped in a little when I went to the turn, gave my horse the cue and he was always into the bridle."
With the win, Tizway earned an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs in November.
Shackleford at Belmont
Shackleford is in place to run in the Belmont Stakes, arriving in New York on Monday after an overnight van ride from Louisville.
"He looks good," trainer Dale Romans' assistant, Scotty Everett, said as Shackleford was walked off the van and into his barn. "We are excited to have him here."
Romans, still at Churchill Downs, said Shackleford would be walked around the barn Tuesday before going to the track Wednesday. The trainer wants to make sure the 3-year-old colt is in top condition before committing to the Belmont.
Nehro works at Churchill
Nehro, runner-up to Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby, displayed his readiness for a run in the Belmont Stakes with a sharp 6-furlong work Monday at Churchill Downs.
With regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas in the irons, Nehro worked inside of 3-year-old stablemate Dominus and covered the distance over a fast track in 1:12.20.
"I was very pleased with the move," Asmussen said. "Obviously we stuck Nehro in company and asked him for a good work. It was the best work I've seen him lay down."
The son of Mineshaft covered the 6 furlongs in fractional times of :12, :24.20, :36.20, :48 and 1:00. He galloped out 7 furlongs in 1:25.60 and a mile in 1:39.
■ Sassy Image collected her fifth win in six starts at Churchill Downs when she narrowly defeated Beat the Blues by a head in the Grade III, $111,600 Winning Colors for fillies and mares ages three and up.
Sassy Image was one of three winners for Churchill Downs' leading rider, Corey Lanerie.
Uncle Mo recuperating
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he hopes last season's 2-year-old champion, Uncle Mo, can return to New York and resume training by the end of June.
Pletcher said Mike Repole's colt is "doing well" at WinStar Farm in Versailles, where he was shipped May 9, three days after being scratched from the Kentucky Derby because of an internal ailment that remains undiagnosed.
"He's gained 58 pounds since he's been there," Pletcher said.
He said he didn't know how many pounds Uncle Mo lost before going to WinStar because he didn't weigh him. He hasn't raced since April 9, when he lost for the first time in five career starts in the Wood Memorial.
"He's continuing to do well," Pletcher said. "He'll get more tests and probably go into some form of light training next week. We'll see how he handles it, and hopefully have him back (at Belmont) by late June. Then we'd see how much conditioning he's lost in terms of a race. But we'll worry about that later on."