By Jon Forbes | 04/24/2010 03:37 PM ET
If not for a chance telephone call, owner John Fort of Peachtree Stable might have never purchased Biloxi, who overcame greenness to break his maiden on April 24 at Aqueduct Racetrack and become the eighth horse featured in the recently introduced “New York Watch” series.
Prior to the 2008 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Fort made a trip to Taylor Made Farm to visually inspect horses in the farm’s consignment. After scouting 30 yearlings, Fort left the farm, only to remember he had never looked at a particular Tiznow colt.
“I called Duncan Taylor (at Taylor Made) and said, ‘I didn’t see the Tiznow,’” Fort said of the colt later named Biloxi, who was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm. “So I went back the next day and saw him.”
Fort wasn’t overwhelmed by the yearling’s catalogue page, but was impressed enough by the dark bay’s appearance to buy him for $350,000.
“There is a lot of white on his page,” said Fort, speaking by telephone from Ocala, Fla. “You have to go back to the third dam to see any black-type. But this is a colt who is the picture of a thoroughbred. He’s a big, strapping, beautiful horse.”
And while Fort had to go far back to find distinguished family members, Biloxi did have two notable names deeper in his pedigree. His third dam Uncommitted produced the 1982 Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Handicap winner and notable sire Wavering Monarch. In addition, Uncommitted was the dam of Chellingoua, who in turn produced black-type winner Out West, the dam of the 2005 Group 1 Vodafone Epsom Derby winner Motivator.
Placed in training with Rick Dutrow, Jr., Biloxi flashed good early speed to finish second at Gulfstream Park on March 20 in his lone previous effort. With that race under his belt, the sophomore was favored at 1-2 to earn his diploma at Aqueduct. The colt dueled through an opening quarter of 21.86, gained a slight lead nearing the furlong marker, and prevailed by three-quarters of a length despite lugging in.
The stewards conducted an inquiry into the stretch run, but left the original order of finish unchanged.
“As soon as I saw him win, I congratulated Dr. Barry Eisaman, who broke the horse and watched the race with me,” said Fort. “I left and texted him later to ask for the final time (1:10.32 for six furlongs), but I didn’t hear back from him. I was on the road going 70 mph when he called me, and told me there had been an inquiry.”
Fort – who owned Merchant Marine, another son of Tiznow who won two minor stakes at Belmont Park and finished third in the 2008 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup – is hopeful Biloxi will improve with experience and distance.
“All the Tiznows want to go on,” said Fort. “We were having him going against the grain by having him in six-furlong races, but we felt like he could win – and he did.”
Fort also noted how Biloxi was able to use his size to his advantage in his maiden victory.
“In his debut at Gulfstream, it looked like he might win, but the winner came over and intimidated him, and he lost his momentum,” said Fort. “Today, he won the bumping.”