New Year’s Day annually brings hope and excitement for what’s to come while happily burying disappointments in the past. For many, this is a simple adage, but the 200+ people who own a piece of Tizamagician quite literally felt those emotions on January 1, 2020.
The idea of an average American owning a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender seems preposterous. Estimated annual training costs for a thoroughbred range from $35,000 to $50,000, and that’s not counting the purchase price, which for a top-end horse can eclipse seven figures. Compare those expenses against the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 median household income of $63,179, and you’re left with an industry that lives up to its nickname: “The Sport of Kings.”
In the summer of 2018, MyRacehorse.com formed with the goal of offering micro-shares of thoroughbreds, making ownership affordable and accessible for the nation’s 99%-ers. What began as a four-horse stable grew to 31 by the start of 2020, a number that will likely continue to expand.
In 2019, after less than a year of existence, MyRacehorse bought a percentage of 3-year-old filly Street Band, who subsequently gave owners the thrill of running in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). She finished sixth that day, then became both the group’s first graded stakes winner (the Indiana Oaks [G3]) and Grade 1 winner (the Cotillion Stakes).
“It’s been an exciting experience,” said Courtney Poole, who owns shares of several MyRacehorse stablemates, including Tizamagician, Street Band, and Lazy Daisy. “I was yelling at the TV the whole entire (Cotillion), even though I wasn’t there. It was very exciting.”
Despite having two fillies compete in the world championships, one stage that the group has yet to reach sits even higher in the cultural zeitgeist: the Kentucky Derby.
And that’s where Tizamagician enters.
Majority owner Spendthrift Farm purchased the son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Tiznow as a yearling for $150,000. MyRacehorse joined as a 60% partner several months later, and the colt was sent to train under Richard Mandella in southern California.
“He looks like he can run and he’s a nice-looking colt,” Mandella said shortly before Tizamagician debuted at Del Mar on July 27, 2019. “He’s a little obnoxious, a little bit like me, but he’s got a cute face.”
Aptly named (his dam is Magic Union), Tizamagician put together a healthy string of workouts leading up to his debut. Despite a pedigree that suggests being better suited for longer events, Tizamagician held his own in the 6-furlong dirt sprint, finishing second. The winner, Wrecking Crew, was an $875,000 purchase who later hit the board in the Best Pal Stakes (G2), the Del Mar Futurity (G1), and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
“His first race was awesome,” said Brian B., an Indianapolis native who, along with his wife, owns shares in Tizamagician and Wayne O, another 3-year-old shared between MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm. “We flew out at the last minute just to watch the race and he ran far better than anyone expected.”
Shortly after the race, Mandella and jockey Victor Espinoza walked past the sizeable ownership group on hand to watch. They delivered a raucous round of applause that brought surprised laughter from the two Hall of Famers.
“I don’t think I have ever seen so much celebrating for a maiden getting second,” Mandella said. “You would have thought we won.”
A rough trip next out resulted in a disappointing seventh-place finish, but Tizamagician bounced back to string together three straight seconds while facing several highly-touted rivals, including Ginobili, Honor A. P., Taishan, Defense Wins, and Snap Chap. His connections were confident that Tizamagician would eventually win, but their patience was being put to the test.
“The seconds were brutal,” Brian B. said. “We had such high expectations in each one of those races. The one after the Breeders’ Cup (behind Taishan) was soul-crushing because I thought he was going to win the race. We stayed (in California) after the Breeders’ Cup just to watch him break his maiden in person. Then, Wayne O and Tiz lost on the same day (on November 30 at different tracks).”
Thankfully, January 1 was just around the corner, and with it, the seconds became things of the past.
Facing familiar foe Snap Chap while going 1 mile at Santa Anita Park, Tizamagician settled just behind him and tracked closely until taking command in the far turn. With Espinoza giving only light urges, Tizamagician cleared off in the stretch to break his maiden. Though it came in his sixth career start, it was his first as a 3-year-old.
New Year, New Tiz.
“It was very, very special,” said Norman Ritchie, a lifelong racing fan who owns a piece of Tizamagician. “This horse has a lot of potential down the road for longer distances based on his breeding. To win at a mile the way he did, that’s indescribable.”
A win like that is enough to put Derby dreams in anyone’s head, and his owners are no different.
“We got our faith renewed with the maiden-breaking win,” Brian B. said. “Now, we’re half-jokingly talking about the Derby.”
In reality, the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby is still quite long and treacherous. Horses only qualify for the starting gate by accruing enough points in pre-determined prep races, and Tizamagician’s maiden special weight was unfortunately not one of those. Country House, last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, barely qualified with 50 points; the bottom two earners, Bodexpress and Spinoff, each had 40.
The next logical step for Tizamagician is to enter a Derby prep. Locally, the 1 1/16-mile Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) is scheduled for February 1, but Mandella is waiting until after his first post-win workout to make any plans. His owners remain optimistic of a bright future.
“Just to get in the gate would be special,” Ritchie said. “To hit the board or even win, life couldn’t get any better.”
Win or lose, Derby or not, one thing is for certain: Tizamagician is giving his owners one hell of a ride.