03/16/2013 6:27PM

Oaklawn Park: Tiz Miz Sue repeats in Grade 3 Azeri

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Tiz Miz Sue put herself in the Apple Blossom picture Saturday at Oaklawn Park when, before a crowd of 33,963, she defended her title in the Azeri by defeating local divisional leader Don’t Tell Sophia, who was second, and comebacking champion My Miss Aurelia, who was third.

The Grade 3, $150,000 race serves as a steppingstone to the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom, which will be run at Oaklawn on April 12.

“That’s a definite target,” said Steve Hobby, who trains Tiz Miz Sue for Cresran LLC.

Tiz Miz Sue ($18.40) had one horse beat early in the Azeri, as Songs and Sonnets was well clear while setting fractions of 25.06 seconds for the opening quarter, 49.07 for the half-mile and 1:14.20 for six furlongs.

My Miss Aurelia chased in second, about five lengths back, and moved to the leader nearing the quarter pole, as did Don’t Tell Sophia. Tiz Miz Sue, meanwhile, began her windup and came rolling outside of horses in the later stages to win by 1 1/4 lengths. It was another 4 1/4 lengths back to My Miss Aurelia in third.

Tiz Miz Sue covered the 1 1/16 miles on a track rated fast in 1:45.26.

“It all worked out for her, and she showed how good she was,” said winning rider Joe Rocco Jr. “Our mare was close enough to where she didn’t have to make up too much ground to get to them. She was in hand pretty much throughout.”

Tiz Miz Sue has won 7 of 30 starts and $789,709. Last year, she gave champion Royal Delta a scare when running second to that one in the Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, beaten a neck. Tiz Miz Sue is a 6-year-old by Tiznow who was making her second start of the year in the Azeri, having finished third in the $100,000 Bayakoa here Feb. 16.

Last year, she won the Azeri with a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 102.