01/08/2014 2:12PM

2013 Eclipse Awards: Tiz Miz Sue

photo by: Barbara D. Livingston

The best season of racing for veteran Tiz Miz Sue was her final season as a 6-year-old in 2013. Although her campaign lasted just four starts, from February through May, it also included her first Grade 1 win and the "fastest" race of her career – a 104 Beyer Speed Figure in her 32nd and final start.

Tiz Miz Sue, an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding older filly or mare, was owned and bred by Carol Ricks and trained throughout her career by Steve Hobby. Early on, they hoped Tiz Miz Sue might emulate her stakes-winning dam, Sue's Good News, a Ricks-owned mare whom Hobby also trained.

Tiz Miz Sue, sired by Tiznow, accomplished a lot more during a career that began as a 2-year-old in 2009 and continued into her fifth campaign.

Oaklawn Park often was home for Tiz Miz Sue, so it was appropriate to launch her 2013 campaign at that track under regular rider Joe Rocco. Racing for the first time in four months in the $98,000 Bayakoa Stakes on Feb. 16, Tiz Miz Sue finished a lackluster third as the favorite, losing by more than seven lengths.

It was not an auspicious comeback. However, Tiz Miz Sue historically improved with racing. She needed a prep.

Expectations were for an improved effort March 16 at Oaklawn. A good field entered the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes, including 2011 champion juvenile filly My Miss Aurelia, sharp allowance winner Songs and Sonnets, and romping Bayakoa winner Don't Tell Sophia. The 1 1/16-mile Azeri would be a test to determine if Tiz Miz Sue still belonged at the top level. She answered with authority.

Relatively ignored by bettors, Tiz Miz Sue saved ground under confident handling by Rocco, inched closer on the far turn, swung outside in the lane, and won going away by 1 1/4 lengths. It was the second time Tiz Miz Sue beat the odds in the Azeri. Her $18.40 payoff was close to the $19.60 she returned a year earlier in the same race.

The confidence-building win gave Ricks and Hobby a reason to go for the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 12. The 1 1/8-mile race always attracted a strong field, and Tiz Miz Sue would try to improve on her third-place finish from a year earlier.

She did improve, but her rally only netted second. She missed by a half-length and went back to the barn still without a Grade 1 victory. Six previous attempts in Grade 1 races produced a runner-up finish and three thirds. That soon would change.

Tiz Miz Sue had shipped previously to New York, with limited success. Third in successive Grade 1's at Saratoga in 2011, later that year she was fourth at Aqueduct and fourth again at Saratoga in 2012.

Belmont Park would be uncharted territory. In her first start at the track, Tiz Miz Sue made the most of it.

Facing a quality field in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap on May 27, Tiz Miz Sue delivered a career-best performance. She won the 1 1/16-mile race by a half-length with a 104 Beyer.

It was her eighth win from 32 starts and lifted her career earnings to $1,129,709.

A minor setback precluded Tiz Miz Sue from a start in the Delaware Handicap in July, and one month later, Hobby suggested she was ready for her second career as a broodmare. She retired from racing Aug. 22.