Tiz Miz Sue and Joe Rocco Jr. take the Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn.

Tiz Miz Sue and Joe Rocco Jr. take the Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn.

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Tiz Miz Sue Upsets Azeri Again

She was 8-1 when she took the grade III event in 2012 and 8-1 when she won it again.

Tiz Miz Sue upset the Azeri Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park last year at odds of 8-1, and this season she did it again. The Cresran homebred ran down the top two contenders My Miss Aurelia and Don't Tell Sophia March 16 to get the job done for trainer Steve Hobby by 1 1/4 lengths (VIDEO).

Heading into the 1 1/16-mile Azeri, all eyes were on multiple grade I winner My Miss Aurelia, the 4-5 favorite, and 9-5 second choice Don't Tell Sophia, who had won the Pippin Stakes and Bayakoa impressively in preparation. Tiz Miz Sue, coming in off a third-place finish in the Feb. 16 Bayakoa and seeking her first victory since that 2012 Azeri surprise, was once again sent off at odds of 8-1 under jockey Joe Rocco Jr.

"Joe rode her really well today," Hobby said. "He knows her. She didn't try to take off with him like she has before. I got really confident at the quarter pole because I could see that Joe had a lot of horse. It was just a matter of getting past Don't Tell Sophia. She has been training great. She did what she's been saying she wanted to do."

The 6-year-old daughter of Tiznow  broke well from post 1 and settled third just off the inside flank of My Miss Aurelia as 5-1 shot Songs and Sonnets shot to the front under jockey Garrett Gomez. That one opened a 7 1/2-length lead on the four other runners while going the quarter in :25.06 and the half in :49.07.

"I was really worried when they went 25 early, but she wasn't that far back today," Hobby remarked. 

"She was close enough that we didn't have to work to make up ground today," Rocco Jr. said. "I was confident throughout. She really relaxed for me today and she did it on her own. That was the key today. She's been going up against some heavy heads." 

Rounding the turn through three-quarters in 1:14.20, My Miss Aurelia easily closed the gap between the frontrunner Songs and Sonnets and Don't Tell Sophia moved with her on the outside. Tiz Miz Sue was fourth by two lengths under jockey Joe Rocco Jr. and had to angle out for running room before setting down for the drive.
Don't Tell Sophia had taken the lead, reaching the furlong mark a lenght in front after disposing of My Miss Aurelia and the flagging pacesetter, but Tiz Miz Sue wore her down with a steady late run. The eventual winner took the lead at the sixteenth pole and finished up willingly to get the distance in 1:45.26.

"That was a great horse race," said Phil Sims, trainer and co-owner of Don't Tell Sophia. "We were victimized by the slow pace. We had to move earlier than usual because of the slow pace. It didn't go as planned, but she ran well and we're happy."

"It was a pedestrian pace for this kind of filly," jockey Robby Albarado agreed. "I applied a little pressure at the three-eighths pole and all three fillies went together. You can't take anything away from Steve's filly. They both ran hard to the wire."

Tiz Miz Sue returned $18.40, $5.20, and $2.80 while Don't Tell Sophia brought $3.40 and $2.20 and My Miss Aurelia paid $2.10. She's All In and Songs and Sonnets completed the order of finish; Holy Heavens and Keiai Tokyo scratched, reducing the field to five.

Tiz Miz Sue, bred in Kentucky out of the Woodman mare Sue's Good News, came within a neck of upsetting champion Royal Delta last summer in the Delaware Handicap (gr. II). The Azeri victory extended her record to 7-9-4 from 30 starts, with earnings of $789,709.

The $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn on April 12 is a definite target for both Tiz Miz Sue and Don't Tell Sophia, their respective trainers said.