08/11/2013 9:48PM

Del Mar: Tiz Flirtatious dominates Mabee Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Jockey Julien Leparoux never used his whip while steering Tiz Flirtatious to a 2 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2 John Mabee Stakes on Sunday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Tiz Flirtatious has steadily progressed into one of the elite female turf runners in the country, and her breathtaking performance Sunday in the Grade 2, $250,000 John Mabee Stakes at Del Mar surely stamped her as one of the top contenders for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf this fall.

The Mabee unfolded at a glacial pace, with the supposed rabbit, Journaliste, behaving more like a tortoise than a hare. Tiz Flirtatious was fourth in the five-horse field through six furlongs in 1:17.94, but she unleashed an electrifying turn of foot on the final turn that immediately carried her past her rivals en route to a 2 1/4-length victory. She was breezing through the final furlong, looking like she was out for a Sunday stroll under Julien Leparoux.

Tiz Flirtatious ($3.20) was timed in 1:51.71 for 1 1/8 miles on firm turf, with her final three furlongs in about 33.20 seconds.

Lady of Shamrock, like Journaliste trained by John Sadler and owned by Kosta Hronis, finished second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of My Gi Gi. Customer Base and Journaliste completed the order of finish.

“When she relaxes, she’s something else,” said Marty Jones, who trains Tiz Flirtatious for her owner and breeder, Pamela Ziebarth. “That was a weird race. The pace was so slow. I sure didn’t expect Lady of Shamrock to be in front of us.”

Tiz Flirtatious is 5, but the California-bred daughter of Tizbud has raced just 11 times. Jones has judiciously parceled out her races this year, running about every two months. She is 3 for 4 this year, her lone loss a narrow defeat against Marketing Mix in the Grade 1 Gamely at Betfair Hollywood Park. Now 7 for 11 lifetime, Tiz Flirtatious will stretch out to 1 1/4 miles for her next two scheduled starts, the Rodeo Drive this fall at Santa Anita, followed by the Breeders’ Cup.

“It’s taken a while to get where we’re going,” Jones said. “Julien understands how she needs to be ridden.”

Rafael Bejarano, who rode Lady of Shamrock, offered no excuses.

“My horse ran well, but the winner was much the best,” he said.