The 6-year-old son of Grazen, who was born blind and deaf after foaling complications but developed the ability to see later on, earned the first stakes win of his career in the Sensational Star against fellow California-breds.
With a pressing, three-wide trip under jockey Joe Talamo, Tough Sunday took command turning for home in the 6 1/2-furlong race that was washed off the Santa Anita hillside turf course, and held off closing bids from several challengers to win by a length over Solid Wager, who rallied from last in the nine-horse field.
"When I first went to go work for (the late) Mike Mitchell, that's where I met Nick," said winning trainer Steve Miyadi. "That was a long time ago, and Mike told me that the No. 1 rule was that when I stood with him, there was no cheering. I know (Mike's) watching and I know he's mad, because I cheered the length of the stretch today. This horse has had a lot of things against him and he's overcome them."
Tough Sunday raced about a length off early leader Masochistic in the backstretch run, with favored Richard's Boy in between them, and the first quarter went in :21.71. Masochistic began to tire in the turn and Richard's Boy took over to run a half-mile in :44.46, but his lead didn't last long. Tough Sunday had a half-length advantage over Richard's Boy with a furlong to run and finished off the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.68.
"What a cool horse. He pretty much did all the work today," Talamo said. "I just put him in the race. We had a great set up, with Masochistic and Richard's Boy inside of us, and we just sat off of them and then he did all the work down the lane."
Solid Wager finished a neck in front of Smokey Image for second, and Richard's Boy, in what was supposed to be a prep for a trip to Dubai for the Al Quoz Sprint sponsored by Azizi Developments (G1), tired in the final furlong to finish seventh.
Masochistic, who won the 20015 Triple Bend (G1), was eased in the stretch and finished eighth, 18 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
Out of the General Meeting mare Sunday Dress, Tough Sunday now has a 5-5-5 record from 18 starts and $333,838 in earnings.
"I'm shaking. I'm going to cry," Alexander said after the race. "We thought several times that he was the best horse in the race and he would just miss. With this one everything worked out. The right horses scratched, (and) he had the right spot outside of the speed. Joe rode him perfectly, the track was a little off, which is in his breeding, and he just sailed."