09/28/2013 7:21PM

Rodeo Drive Stakes: Tiz Flirtatious beats Marketing Mix by a head

Benoit & Associates
Tiz Flirtatious (No. 3), under jockey Julien Leparoux, gets her first Grade 1 win in Saturday's Rodeo Drive Stakes.

ARCADIA, Calif. – There seems to be only a head difference between the top California turf mares Tiz Flirtatious and Marketing Mix.

Back in May, Marketing Mix beat Tiz Flirtatious by that margin in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. And there was a head between the 5-year-old mares in Saturday’s $250,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes at Santa Anita, with Tiz Flirtatious winning after a thrilling stretch run.

Their third matchup of the year is expected in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf here Nov. 2. For her win in the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive, Tiz Flirtatious earned a fees-paid berth to the BC Filly and Mare Turf through the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program.

It was only in the final strides of the race over 1 1/4 miles on turf that Tiz Flirtatious reached the front under jockey Julien Leparoux.
Vionnet, a 28-1 outsider making her first start in a Grade 1 race, set the pace and led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining.

Vionnet was still in front with a sixteenth of a mile left when Tiz Flirtatious and Marketing Mix began to close the gap. The margin between the first three tightened further in the final sixteenth.

Leparoux, always tough with closers on turf, thought he had time in the stretch to reach the front. He had Tiz Flirtatious in fourth of seven on the backstretch.

“I was not worried, but it was tougher than I thought it would be,” he said. “The first three were going very fast.”

Tiz Flirtatious ($5.40) took the lead in the final strides, edging 6-5 favorite Marketing Mix in 1:58.98.

The Rodeo Drive was the first start for Marketing Mix since she finished a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 17. Despite the loss Saturday, jockey Gary Stevens said Marketing Mix will be competitive in the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

“I’ve got no excuses,” he said. “We got outkicked. She’ll be tough in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Marketing Mix finished a half-length in front of Vionnet, who was followed by Starstruck, Lady of Shamrock, My GiGi, and Topic.

Tiz Flirtatious, who races for her breeder, Pamela Ziebarth, won her first Grade 1 race in the Rodeo Drive, her sixth career stakes win. A California-bred by Tizbud, Tiz Flirtatious has won 8 of 12 and $774,800.

“She deserved a Grade 1 win,” said winning trainer Marty Jones. “She’s a mare you can’t rush. When he was able to get her to the outside on the backstretch, she got comfortable.”