Tiz Flirtatious held off the late charge of even-money choice Lady of Shamrock to nail down her first graded stakes win in the $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) on the turf at Santa Anita Park March 24.
Pamela Ziebarth's California homebred was ridden to a one-length victory by Julien Leparoux for trainer Marty Jones, covering 1 1/8 miles in a solid 1:46.62 over firm going. The 5-year-old daughter of Tizbud out of the Victory Gallop mare Masquerade Belle won for the sixth time in nine lifetime starts.
Tiz Flirtatious collared pacesetter Quiet Oasis in deep stretch on the outside and surged to the front under left-handed urging from Leparoux. The 2-1 second choice in the field of six older fillies and mares held fast under steady handling as multiple grade I winner Lady of Shamrock rallied from last.
"She proved it again today. She's never been worse than third in her career," said Leparoux, who rode Tiz Flirtatious for the first time. "She likes to run, and she's a good mare, it was nice to be on her today. She's a fighter; every jock likes those kind. She won big today, so it was good."
Lady of Shamrock, who edged the Irish-bred Quiet Oasis by a head for second, was making her first start since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 2.
"She ran a great race, her first race back," said Mike Smith, who rode Lady of Shamrock. "If I had a race under my belt, I probably would have ridden her a little differently myself, but I didn't. It's a long year, and we just wanted a good race, and that's what we got."
Quiet Oasis carved quarter-mile fractions of :23.92, :48.36, and 1:17.09 while chased by Smarty B and A Jealous Woman. She opened up by a couple of lengths in upper stretch before being overtaken by Tiz Flirtatious.
"She was a little keen today, but she dropped the bit and relaxed on the backside, and after that, she got up on them," said Leparoux of the winner. "They were not really going anywhere so I just waited, and waited then she gave me a nice kick."
Tiz Flirtatious was coming off a victory over state-breds in the one-mile Valentine Dancer Jan. 26 on a good turf course, her third stakes win over restricted company. She had proven her mettle against open company, however, running second in the Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) at Betfair Hollywood Park in November. She was also second in the Robert J. Frankel (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita prior to the Valentines Dancer.
"I think this was long overdue," Jones said of Tiz Flirtatious' first grade II win. "She's been close in graded stakes, and finally things went her way."
Jones said the Gamely Stakes (gr. IT) May 27 at Hollywood Park would be considered next for Tiz Flirtatious.
The victory, worth $90,000, boosted Tiz Flirtatious' career earnings to $424,800.
The winner carried 118 pounds, receiving two pounds from the favorite, and paid $6, $2.80, and $2.20. Lady of Shamrock, winner of the American Oaks (gr. IT) and Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) last summer for trainer John Sadler, returned $2.40 and $2.10. She rounded out an $11.40 exacta. Quiet Oasis, who was ridden by Mario Gutierrez, was clear by 3 1/4 lengths in third, paying $3.
Long Face finished fourth, followed by A Jealous Woman and Smarty B.