Darley Stable's Tizaqueena, chased by a wall of horses during a contentious stretch drive, was up to the challenge under Jamie Theriot, hanging on for a three-quarters length victory in the $238,600 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) May 2 at Churchill Downs.
A 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow, Tizaqueena scored for trainer Michael Stidham at odds of nearly 9-1 in her graded stakes debut. It was her fourth consecutive victory and fifth in six lifetime starts.
Tizaqueena was forwardly placed throughout the Distaff Turf Mile, sitting just off of pacesetter Rasierra through an opening quarter-mile in :24.68. The dark bay filly took over shortly before hitting a half-mile in :49.37 and never relinquished her lead.
Holding a half–length lead at the top of the lane, Tizaqueena’s biggest challenge came from Dawn After Dawn on her outside. Under the handling of Rene Douglas, Dawn After Dawn was right on the heels of her rival throughout the stretch drive, but never could push her way to the front.
The final time on a turf course labeled good was 1:38.86.
“I just let my horse get comfortable and not get her into a game of tug-of-war,” Theriot said. “She’s good on dirt, but I think she’s better on grass.”
Tizaqueena is undefeated in three starts on turf. She made her turf debut in an optional claimer at Fair Grounds on Feb. 8 and won by 1 3/4 lengths. Over the same course six months later, she scored the Fortin Handicap in wire-to-wire fashion. This was Tizaqueena’s first start outside of Louisiana.
“She’s certainly stepped up a notch on grass,” Stidham said. “We ran her on the turf for the first time because the dirt race didn’t go. Her numbers moved forward when she went to the grass. Today was the step forward she needed to pass, and she passed it. I don’t know what her limits are.”
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable and is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Issaqueena. She has now earned $275,415.
John Sadler trainee Dawn After Dawn settled for second, a half-length in front of third-place Lemon Chiffon, who came up the hedge with a strong run under Mike Smith.
Visit, the 3-2 favorite in the field of nine, was squeezed and steadied at the start and under restraint when too eager under jockey Garrett Gomez. She angled out for the drive rallied from eighth to finish fifth.
Sent off at 8-1, Tizaqueena paid $19.80, $8.60 and $5.20. Dawn After Dawn returned $7.40 and $4.80. Lemon Chiffon was $3.60 to show. The exacta (3-11) returned $140.60 and the trifecta (3-11-1) was $614.20.
Rustic Flame, Visit, Stealin' Kisses, Zee Zee, Elusive Lady and Rasierra completed the order.