Tizbud, en route to Cal Cup Classic victory.

Tizbud, en route to Cal Cup Classic victory.


A Star Buds in Cal Cup Classic

Tizbud finally resembled his big brothers Budroyale and Tiznow with a decisive victory Saturday in the $250,000 California Cup Classic at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

The son of Cee's Tizzy, ridden by Victor Espinoza, completed the 1 1/8 mile in 1:48, finishing three lengths ahead of Kedington, who was a head better than Commander's Flag.

"We got lucky," said Espinoza, who won four times on the 10-race Cal Cup card.

Hot Market, the strong 7-5 favorite following the overnight scratch of morning line choice Sky Jack, faded in the stretch after dueling for the lead with Red Warrior, finishing sixth.

In spite of his breeding for the race – Budroyale won the Cal Cup Classic in 1998 – Tizbud had only a maiden win to show from five starts and was sent off at 10-1 in the field of nine. Tiznow won back-to-back Breeders' Cup Classics in 2000 and 2001 and Budroyale was second in the same race in 1999. Tiznow ($6.4 million in earnings) and Budroyale ($2.8 million) rank first and seventh all time among California breds.

Tizbud pulled early before settling in third, a couple of lengths behind Hot Market, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, and Red Warrior, with Ryan Fogelsonger partnering. The pace – :23 1/5, :46 and 1:10 – was a good one.

On the turn for home, Espinoza urged Tizbud into contention on the outside, and by the time they hit the top of the stretch with Hot Market, Tizbud was in control. He finished driving under steady urging and was not seriously challenged through the lane. Kedington chased the leaders while off the rail, swinging wide into the stretch and barely holding off Commander's Flag, who saved ground into the final turn before launching a bid from the outside.

Trained by John Sadler, Tizbud was a badly-beaten fourth in a one-mile optional claiming allowance race Oct. 2, his only start since a third-place finish as the lukewarm favorite in the San Fernando Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) in January.

"It was not the prep we were looking for," Sadler said. "He came back in an easy condition and he didn't really run very well even after he stumbled (at the start). Needless to say I spent a lot of sleepless nights. But he came out of it good and he moved forward and the big thing today is we really believe this horse wants to run a mile and an eighth, a mile and a quarter."

Espinoza said he noticed a difference in the horse while working him in the mornings.

"I told (Sadler) the horse was doing very good and I thought we had a very good chance to win, because a mile and an eighth is much better for him," Espinoza said. "Today, we had a very good trip and he was very much the best."

The victory was worth $150,000 to Cees Stable LLC, whose Cecilia Straub Rubens bred the winner from Cee's Song (Seattle Song). Tizbud now has career earnings of nearly $220,000.

Tizbud paid $22.40, $12.40 and $7.60. Kedington, ridden by Tyler Baze, returned $12.20 and $7.60. Commander's Flag's show was $5.20. The $2 exacta was worth $248.40.

Grey Memo came with his customary late run to be fourth, followed by Mr. Joe C, Hot Market, Calkins Road, Tizawinner and Red Warrior.

Sky Jack, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, was scratched because of an injury to his surgically repaired right knee. Trainer Doug O'Neill said the 7-year-old gelding will be retired.

On Friday morning, O'Neill noticed some heat on Sky Jack's knee, which has undergone three operations, and decided the son of Jaklin Klugman had run his final race.

Sky Jack won the Cal Cup Classic three years ago -- one of his 10 victories in 18 lifetime starts. He retires having earned more than $1.1 million during a career interrupted several times by injuries.

O'Neill, who has broken Bob Baffert's record for wins by a trainer at an Oak Tree meeting with 22, had a tough day. None of the 11 horses he saddled were victorious.

For California-breds only, the Cal Cup featured 10 stakes races worth a total of $1.325 million. Attendance Saturday was 18,029.

Among the other winners were 25-1 long shot Lennyfromalibu in the $175,000 Mile; 9-5 favorite Royally Chosen in the $150,000 Matron; 2-1 favorite Blind Ambition in the $150,000 Distaff, and 5-1 outsider Green Team in the $150,000 Sprint.

Lennyfromalibu hadn't won in his six previous starts including two eighth-place finishes in his last three outings. The win was only his third in 13 lifetime starts.

``My horse broke good, and we got out there and got comfortable and he went on with it,'' winning jockey Ryan Fogelsonger said. ``Last time we tried to rate him, and that's not what he wants to do.''

Continental Red, second in the Cal Cup Classic last year, was second in the Mile this time.

Green Team's 1:07.92 effort in the six-furlong Sprint was a Cal Cup record. The previous mark of 108.28 was set by Answer Do in 1992.

``When I got the chance, I swung to the outside, and he just took off with me,'' said Espinoza, who guided Green Team from well off the pace to his two-length victory.

Fogelsonger, Alex Solis and Julie Krone rode two winners each. Fogelsonger, 22, was the leading apprentice jockey in the country last year. He began riding in California two months ago.

(Chart, Equibase)