Tiz Miz Sue has been keeping company this summer with the top fillies on the East Coast, but when she arrived at Keeneland Wednesday morning for Sunday's Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster after vanning from Monmouth Park, there was no Royal Delta or Love and Pride in sight.
"She has always been matched up tough, so I guess that has been kind of mean of me," trainer Steve Hobby laughed after bringing Tiz Miz Sue back to Barn 22 following a one-mile jog early Thursday morning.
"When she was two, the horse that beat her in the (Grade 3) Arlington-Washington Lassie (She Be Wild) won the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Fillies) and last year, she ran against (Horse of the Year) Havre de Grace."
In her most recent start, Tiz Miz Sue finished fourth behind Love and Pride and champion Royal Delta, beaten only two lengths, in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. Prior to that, the five-year-old daughter of Tiznow was beaten just a neck by Royal Delta in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks and was second to Love and Pride in the Grade 3 Obeah.
Hobby bypassed last Saturday's Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park to take a shot in Sunday's 57th running of the Spinster going 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack.
"I am kind of glad I didn't run in the Beldame with the way Royal Delta ran," Hobby said, referring to that filly's 9 1/2-length victory. "And then Love and Pride won that race at Santa Anita (the Grade 1 Zenyatta by 3 1/4 lengths) and that validated her form."
The Spinster will mark a return to Polytrack for Tiz Miz Sue, who posted a victory and two seconds in three starts over the surface as a juvenile at Arlington Park in 2009.
"Today was the first day she had been on Polytrack since Arlington," Hobby said. "That was part of the reason in running here because I knew she would handle it. I don't know if I would have run her here had she not run on it before."
Tiz Miz Sue, who has compiled a record of 27-6-9-3 for earnings of $674,709 for owner-breeder Carol Ricks of Cresran LLC, has lived up to her potential for Hobby.
"She was impressive from the beginning and I thought she was special," Hobby said of the mare, who will be ridden Sunday by Joe Rocco Jr.
Tiz Miz Sue will face 12 rivals in the Spinster, including defending champion Aruna, who is seeking to become the fourth horse to win back-to-back runnings of the race.
Trained by Graham Motion, Aruna won the 2011 Spinster under Ramon Dominguez, who will be back in the irons Sunday as Aruna tries to join Take Charge Lady (2002-03), Bayakoa (1989-90) and Bornastar (1957-58) as a winner of consecutive runnings of the Spinster.
The Mr. Greeley mare will have to rebound off a last-place run in the Grade 1 Beverly D., where she stumbled at the break and clipped heels while competing on the grass. Her two starts prior to that one resulted in a second in the New York Stakes and a win in the Sheepshead Bay, both Grade 2 contests at Belmont Park.
In addition to Aruna, two other Grade 1 winners are among the talent-laden cast for the Spinster -- Summer Soiree and Karlovy Vary.
Summer Soiree, cross-entered to Saturday's Grade 1 First Lady, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last year before closing out her sophomore campaign two races later with a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Matriarch. The Motion-trained daughter of War Front has competed just once this season, filling the third spot in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga in late August, and will be ridden by Gabriel Saez for this one.
Karlovy Vary earned a berth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks starting gate after taking the Grade 1 Ashland over Keeneland's Polytrack this spring, but proved her dislike for a conventional dirt track when 12th in that race. Trained by Rusty Arnold, the Dynaformer sophomore ran third in the Nani Rose two back in her only other black-type credit and will have Corey Lanerie aboard for the Spinster.
Twelve of the 13 Spinster runners are graded winners, including Grade 2 queens Disposablepleasure, Juanita, In Lingerie and Mystical Star. The former is looking for her first win since taking the Grade 2 Demoiselle as a juvenile in 2011, while Juanita holds a more recent victory in the Grade 2 La Troienne at Churchill Downs on May 4. In Lingerie returns in this spot from a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Alabama on August 18 at Saratoga, and Mystical Star has them all beat with a front-running score in the New York Stakes over Aruna on June 30.
Multiple Grade 3 veteran Upperline has a shot at Grade 1 glory as well off a close fifth in the Beverly D. The Maria's Mon mare was a four-length winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Matron on the Polytrack at that Chicago venue in late May and keeps regular rider James Graham in the saddle.
One race before the Spinster, an oversubscribed field of 14 turf juveniles was entered for the 22nd running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Bourbon at 1 1/16 miles on the Keeneland green.
Balance the Books, winner of Saratoga's Grade 2 With Anticipation in his most recent start, tops the group but is one of three in the race who is also cross-entered to Saturday's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity. The other two are Johar, just a head back of Balance the Books in the With Anticipation, and Craving Carats, eighth in that same race.
The main body of the field includes Ruler of Love, a three-length victor of the Kentucky Downs Juvenile last month, and Brown Almighty, hero of the Sunny's Halo before a neck second in the Sunday Silence, both at Louisiana Downs.