Slew's Tizzy, bounding home from between horses for red-hot jockey Joel Rosario, outfought favored Past the Point and pacesetter Ball Four to win the $108,200 Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) in a 7-1 surprise at Hollywood Park Dec. 6.
Past the Point, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, looked like a certain winner as he loomed up on the outside in upper stretch to challenge Ball Four and Mike Smith for the lead, with Slew's Tizzy between them. But Past the Point, the 2-1 choice, didn't go on from there, allowing his rivals to stay close. In the final furlong, it was Slew's Tizzy who proved best, easing away to win by 1 1/2 lengths in a time of 1:46.78, breaking the Cushion Track record for 1 1/8 miles. Past the Point nipped Ball Four by a neck for second.
Joseph LaCombe's homebred 4-year-old Slew's Tizzy made up for his 11th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Dirt MIle at Santa Anita Oct. 25 when he pressed the pace and tired after racing wide. The Tiznow colt picked up his first stakes win since taking the Lone Star Derby (gr. III) in May 2007. Trained at the time by Gregory Fox, Slew's Tizzy now hails from the barn of Doug O'Neill.
"He had such a troubled trip in the Breeders' Cup," O'Neill said. "But he was training really well."
O'Neill praised Rosario for a patient ride. "Joel did such a wonderful thing, backing off, then coaxing him home ... We were sandwiched between two really good horses, but this is a wonderful horse."
Slew's Tizzy, out of the Slewpy mare Hepatica, is a full brother to stakes-winning Slew's Tiznow, who was also entered in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile but scratched due to a fever.
The victory was the fourth of the day for Rosario in the first six races at Hollywood. Rosario completed the day with five winners.
"Last time in the Breeders' Cup, I got bumped real hard by the horses inside me and outside me," Rosario said. "My horse wanted to go, but it was a big field and they were going real fast. Today he was much more relaxed and more confident. It's harder to race between horses because you're under pressure the whole time, but he handled it great."
Slew's Tizzy, leaving from the rail, broke on top but took back off Ball Four, who led the field through hot fractions of :23.10, :46.51, and 1:10.12 while opening up a 2 1/2-length lead on the backstretch. Rounding the turn, Slew's Tizzy moved up to challenge Ball Four, and they were soon challenged by Past the Point, who pressed on to take a narrow advantage in the lane but could not hold it as Slew's Tizzy put his head in front mid-stretch and gradually took control.
"He was lugging out because he was getting a little bit tired," Bejarano said of the favorite. "I was in the perfect position. He was just galloping to the quarter pole and it felt like he was going to win easy. Then he started getting out."
The victory was the much-traveled Slew's Tizzy's fifth in 19 lifetime starts and increased his earnings to $619,619. The winner's share for the Native Diver was $68,200.
"The dream goal is the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I)," O'Neill said. "We’ll figure out how he comes out of this and the proper way to get there.”
The winner carried 115 pounds paid $16.40, $6.80 and $4. Darley-owned Past the Point, second to Curlin in the Woodward (gr. I) at Saratoga this summer, returned $3.40 and $2.80 while completing a $2 exacta worth $63.40. Ball Four, winner of the Fayette (gr. III) at Keeneland for trainer Todd Pletcher in his last start, was $2.60 to show. Ball Four, who carried top weight of 119, ran fifth in last year's Native Diver.
Second choice Spring House (5-2) closed mildly for fourth over Galantas and Zappa in the six-horse field. Racketeer and Barber scratched.