08/09/2013 1:43PM

Del Mar: Tiz Flirtatious gears up for fall in Mabee

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Benoit & Associates
Tiz Flirtatious, the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Ana in March, makes her first start Sunday since finishing second in the May 27 Gamely.

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DEL MAR, Calif. − The goals with Tiz Flirtatious go well beyond Sunday’s $250,000 John Mabee Stakes for fillies and mares on turf at Del Mar.

A four-time stakes winner, Tiz Flirtatious has improved remarkably in the last year. A California-bred stakes winner in early 2012, she won the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita in March and was second to division leader Marketing Mix in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in May.

With Marketing Mix bound for the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 17, Tiz Flirtatious will be favored in the Grade 2 Mabee, run at 1 1/8 miles on turf. It is a role trainer Marty Jones is not entirely comfortable with.

Tiz Flirtatious, who races for owner and breeder Pamela Ziebarth, has not started since the Gamely. Jones is as much focused on having Tiz Flirtatious ready for autumn races such as the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita as he is the Mabee.

“She hasn’t run in a couple of months, and that concerns me a little bit,” he said earlier this week. “We’re hoping that we’ll have a fresh horse at the end of the year. There are some very important races at the end of the year.”

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Tiz Flirtatious, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, is part of a field of five in the Mabee. Jones even mentioned Friday that he could pull Tiz Flirtatious from the Mabee in favor of the $150,000 Solana Beach Handicap against California-breds on Aug. 18, though he downplayed the possibility.

“I’m pretty sure we’re running,” he said of Sunday’s race. “It’s a small field. Some ways that’s good, and some ways that’s bad.”

Aside from the prize money and graded status of the race, Tiz Flirtatious is likely to stay in the Mabee because of the race scenario. Journaliste has been entered as a pacesetter for stablemate Lady of Shamrock, but Tiz Flirtatious should be well-placed throughout.

Lady of Shamrock, second in the Santa Ana and third in the Gamely, is winless in five starts since the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks over 1 1/8 miles on turf here last August.

“Her Del Mar Oaks was one of her best races last year,” trainer John Sadler said.

After the Gamely in May, Lady of Shamrock was a fast-closing second to Starformer in the Grade 2 New York Handicap at Belmont Park on June 29. She will wear blinkers Sunday.

Lady of Shamrock and Journaliste are owned by Kosta Hronis. Journaliste has never run 1 1/8 miles and was sixth in the minor Time to Leave Stakes at five furlongs at Hollywood Park on May 5.

Sadler said the presence of Journaliste helps Lady of Shamrock.

“There will not be a [half-mile] in 50 [seconds],” he said.

Customer Base and My Gi Gi will be longer prices.

Customer Base, trained by Tom Proctor, won the minor Lucie Manet Stakes at 1 1/4 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on July 5. The Mabee is her first start in a graded stakes since a second in the Grade 3 Autumn Miss Stakes at Santa Anita last October.

“If you’re ever going to take a shot, this is the time,” Proctor said. “She’s on top of her game.”

My Gi Gi was third in the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes at Hollywood Park on July 6. Fourth in the 2012 Del Mar Oaks, she won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2012.

“She’s trained well down here,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “My filly is more or less one-paced. She just goes along.”

Eurton realizes how tough the competition will be Sunday.

“Lady of Shamrock has always been tough to beat,” Eurton said. “Tiz Flirtatious is freaky talented.”