12/09/2011 3:27PM

Hollywood Park: Tiz Flirtatious goes longer, gets class test in Cat's Cradle Handicap

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Even though the 3-year-old Tiz Flirtatious is undefeated after winning two sprints at Santa Anita in October, trainer Marty Jones thinks she is more suited to run long.

She gets her chance in Sunday’s $80,000 Cat’s Cradle Handicap for statebred females over 7 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park.
“I’ve always thought she wants to run farther,” he said. “She’s not built like a sprinter and she doesn’t run like a sprinter.”

Owned by breeder Pamela Ziebarth, Tiz Flirtatious faces eight opponents in the Cat’s Cradle. At Santa Anita, Tiz Flirtatious won a maiden race over six furlongs and an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs, closing from off the pace to lead both races in the final sixteenth.

“She’s done everything right so far,” Jones said. “She’s been real settled in her races and done what we’ve asked of her. She’s going to get the acid test in here. I like the distance and the timing of the race. Those fillies are tough.”

Tiz Flirtatious, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario, faces two stakes winners – California Nectar and Lady Railrider – and five who have placed in stakes.

“It’s kind of a big jump in class,” Jones said.

That aside, Tiz Flirtatious should have a good trip in the Cat’s Cradle. California Nectar, winner of the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita last January, and Salty Sarah, third in the California Cup Distaff on turf in October, should ensure a quick pace.

California Nectar was sixth in the Cal Cup Distaff after racing near the front for the first half-mile.

“We were on the front end of a hot pace,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “I think going 7 1/2 furlongs is better for her. It should be softer early on. I think she can make the lead or just sit in the garden spot. We should be on the great position.

“She’s galloping strong. We’ve given her plenty of time. It’s hard to knock a filly that’s been in the first two in nine of 13 starts.”

Downhill Diva is a threat in the stretch. Second in the Adoration Stakes over a mile at Del Mar on Sept. 4, Downhill Diva makes her first start in the Cat’s Cradle since a sixth in the Las Madrinas Handicap at Fairplex Park on Sept. 24.

The filly is ready for a comeback, trainer Patricia Harrington said.

“Her style should fit with this,” Harrington said. “It would be great to win. In her case, you stand out of the way and let her train herself. She likes to train. When they like to run, it’s fun.”