Tough Tiz's Sis loves Hollywood Park, synthetic tracks and the 1 1/16-mile distance. So Bob Baffert's 4-year-old filly had much in her favor when she won the $108,500 Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) May 4.
Ridden by Aaron Gryder, the grade I winner came off the inside in upper stretch to run down the pacesetting Dawn After Dawn. Tough Tiz's Sis, the narrow 2-1 favorite, then held off the closing Santa Teresita for a three-quarters of a length victory in the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track event for fillies and mares.
Winner of back-to-back stakes since a second-place finish in the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I) in February across town, Tough Tiz's Sis had looked a little sluggish since Zenyatta defeated her in the El Encino (gr. II) in January by nearly two lengths.
But Tough Tiz's Sis, a daughter of Tiznow --Leaseholder, by Taylor's Falls, continues to be a gem of consistency for Baffert over the past two seasons. Winner of the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) at 3, she now has two wins and a second in three starts on the Hollywood main track. She owns three victories and three runner-up finishes in six synthetic track tries generally. And she's captured five of eight starts at the distance, finishing second in her other three efforts.
"She likes Hollywood and she likes synthetics," Baffert said. "Her breeding says synthetics.
"I don’t really have any ideas where she’ll be going next. Hopefully we can run her in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, so we just have to spot her and keep her away from Zenyatta. I am going to keep her here in California.”
Tough Tiz's Sis broke with the leaders from her rail post in the seven-horse field and led after an easy quarter mile in :24.69. She fell back into second went Dawn After Dawn took over while racing on the outside. They completed the half in :47.19. The saddle on Dawn After Dawn slipped forward with jockey Victor Espinoza as they negotiated the backstretch. With little holding her in check, Dawn After Dawn continued to lead after six furlongs n 1:10.90. Rounding the turn, Tough Tiz's Sis applied pressure on the leader from the inside, angling out for the drive and eventually passing Dawn After Dawn near the eighth pole.
"I thought they'd be going faster early, but when I realized they weren't, I let her run up on the inside of them," Gryder said. "She's got such a big reach in her gallop. When she got to the outside, I saw Victor's horse (Dawn After Dawn), the saddle had slipped quite a bit and I just let her get comfortable. She's such a big, long-striding filly, she can outrun a lot of them using a lot less energy."
Second choice Santa Teresita, looking for her fourth consecutive win for trainer David Hofmans, finished well for jockey Michael Baze after making a wide bid to challenge, but she could not catch the winner. It was 1 1/4 lengths to the unlucky show horse, Dawn After Dawn. The final time was a smart 1:41.84.
"The saddle slipped real bad," Espinoza said. "I had no control. It slipped all the way on top of her neck. It's pretty scary. When you don't have any control you just feel like you're on top of jelly. The whole way, my body was on top of her neck. It's amazing she ran as good as she did."
Tough Tiz's Sis earned $65,100 for owners Watson and Weitman Performances with her seventh lifetime win in 17 starts. She has banked $627,792.
Gary Tussey bred the bay filly in Kentucky.
The winner carried high weight of 121 pounds and paid $6, $3.20 and $2.20. Santa Teresita, making her graded stakes debut, returned $3.20 and $2.20, completing a $2 exacta worth $19. The grade II winner Dawn After Dawn was $2.80 to show.
Glorified finished fourth, with the outsiders Stormin Mon, Fleetheart and Rivoltella trailing.