Tiznow's Pensioning And The State Of The Godolphin Arabian/Man O' War Sire Line - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Tiznow’s Pensioning And The State Of The Godolphin Arabian/Man O’ War Sire Line

The Godolphin Arabian at seven years old, by John Wooten.

One of the hard and fast rules of the stud book is a Thoroughbred must have descended through its male lines from one of the three foundation sires: The Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian, or the Byerley Turk.

The Byerley Turk sire line that gave us the mighty Lexington dried up in the U.S. in the 1990s; its final gasps being snuffed out when champion sprinter Precisionist was found to be practically sterile and Breeders' Cup Classic usurper Arcangues was sent to stand in Japan with minimal success. With the recent announcement of champion and leading sire Tiznow's pensioning from stud duty, the Godolphin Arabian line is now left facing a similar peril, without an established North American figurehead and a dwindling number of contenders for that throne.

At a point in the North American timeline where the deficit in hybrid vigor has driven The Jockey Club to limit stud book sizes for present and future foals, it's fair to find the potential of losing another core outcross option concerning. A flagging sire line can't be turned around if the stallions themselves can't adequately pass on their own racetrack and commercial success at a high level, but the Godolphin Arabian still has a few cards to play before folding his hand.

Tiznow represents the most prominent and prolific North American branch of the male line that traces back to the Godolphin Arabian and bottlenecks through the great Man o' War. Legend has it, the Godolphin Arabian was born in Yemen around 1724 and he passed from owner to owner through Africa and France before ending up in England, where he became Great Britain and Ireland's leading sire on three occasions.

Fourteen generations later came Man o' War, who was named North America's Horse of the Year in 1920. He was the continent's leading sire six years later. Man o' War's status as a great runner and sire is unquestionable, but his legacy as a sire line-extender is a bit murkier. He's the pivot point for any significant member of the Godolphin Arabian sire line standing today, but his tree doesn't fan out as widely as one might expect from a horse of his stature. If it did, this conversation would be moot.

Tiznow leaves stud duty without a firmly established son to carry the line into the next generation, leaving the responsibility of preserving one of the North American breed's most important bloodlines to a relatively small handful of largely unproven and regional stallions.

Before looking at the present, though, one must look to the future. Tiznow has 194 combined yearlings and 2-year-olds of 2020, and two more crops behind them. Given Tiznow's propensity to sire high-caliber runners, there is always a chance that one or more of them will be the one we've been waiting for to grab the reins and drive the line into future generations.

Among his active runners, Tiznow's best shot at a line-extender is Grade 3 winner Dennis' Moment, who returned to training in September after a seven-month freshening up.

Looking at Tiznow's current sons at stud, one of his most likely successors is Breeders' Cup Mile winner and fellow WinStar Farm resident Tourist, whose first foals are 2-year-olds of 2020. Strong Mandate, a resident of Three Chimneys Farm, has three crops of racing age and a sizable pipeline of young horses to find a suitable heir. However, both stallions are still seeking their first North American graded stakes winners in their young careers.

Regionally, Tiznow's sons are led by Gemologist, who began his career at WinStar Farm before relocating to Louisiana in 2019; and popular New Mexico resident Sporting Chance. Colonel John was given a fair chance at stud in Kentucky, as well, before being sold to stand in Korea in 2017. He left behind Pennsylvania stallion Airoforce to extend his branch of the line.


With no obvious heir apparent for Tiznow, there is suddenly an increased chance that the Godolphin Arabian line could survive through another conduit – the Grade 2 winner Put It Back.

The son of Honour and Glory was exported to Brazil, but his hopes of landing a serious Kentucky stallion lie with a Brazilian Triple Crown winner – Calumet Farm's Bal a Bali. Also a multiple Grade 1 winner in the U.S., Bal a Bali has 96 yearlings in his first crop that will begin hitting the track in 2021.

The Calumet Farm operation has a history of keeping its stallions' books well-populated with its deep roster of broodmares, and a solid debut from his first juveniles could set him up to be supported by outside breeders, as well. Bal a Bali was a Group 3 winner as a 2-year-old in his native Brazil, offering some hope that they could come out running.

Put It Back is also the sire of In Summation, a regular presence near the top of Florida's sire ranks. His crops have dwindled to a trickle as his career has reached its coda, which means the responsibility of keeping the sire line going through In Summation will all but certainly fall on young Indiana stallion Calculator.

Both Tiznow and Put It Back connect to the same branch of the Godolphin Arabian/Man o' War line through Relaunch, who is also the pivot point for a line that runs through Skywalker, then Bertrando, and finally spreading out today through a quartet of California sires: Coach Bob, Sierra Sunset, Stormy Jack, and Tamarando. That group covered a combined 25 mares in 2020, 18 of which were bred by Tamarando.

The Bertrando line got a fizzled boost from Officer, who sent a pair of sons to stud: Boys at Tosconova, who began his career in New York and was exported to join his sire in Korea; and Elite Squadron, who entered stud in Kentucky and has since shuffled around regional markets.

The Godolphin Arabian and his favorite cat, by George Stubbs.

The pickings get even slimmer when one ventures away from the Relaunch branch of the Godolphin Arabian sire line. Relaunch is by In Reality, who is also the sire of Valid Appeal.

From the Valid Appeal branch, the burden lies primarily on the pensioned Successful Appeal and his sons. The star of that group is Kentucky Derby runner-up Closing Argument, who spent time in Florida and Kentucky before arriving in Louisiana. Though he's had a number of prosperous runners, the sons of Successful Appeal to enter stud have been scant, and the ones that did have been marginal residents in regional markets.

Successful Appeal's other son of note at stud is J P's Gusto, who stood seven seasons in Florida before being sent to Korea without a son at stud.

The Valid Expectations offshoot from Valid Appeal sees its last flicker of hope from veteran Louisiana stallion The Daddy, who bred five mares in 2020.

All it takes is one good sire producing another good sire to keep a line alive for another generation. If he can produce several good sires, the line has an even better chance of surviving. Tiznow has put plenty of good runners on the track and he's sent plenty of sons to stud, but there remains work to be done by those sons as their patriarch kicks up his heels in retirement.

It will certainly be an uphill battle, but recent history offers a glimmer of optimism. Upper-crust sires Unbridled's Song and Giant's Causeway exited stud duty without a true heir to their respective lines, but their final few crops provided a late flurry of viable candidates that could alter their legacies as sires of sires.

Just because there's now a finite number of real chances to preserve one of the breed's core lines in North America doesn't mean every option has been exhausted. It's just closer to that point than it's probably ever been.

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