01/20/2012 1:28PM

Santa Anita: La Canada filled with questions

Benoit & Associates
Tiz Flirtatious, Joel Rosario up, wins the Cat's Cradle.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Is a future star hiding in the La Canada Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita? Or is the Grade 2 merely a gloried allowance?

An evenly matched field entered the $150,000 stake for 4-year-old fillies, and kitchen-table critics could knock any in 1 1/16-mile race on Santa Anita’s speed-friendly dirt oval.

Tiz Flirtatious has never lost, but also has never tried two turns. Capital Plan is on a roll, but has never tried dirt. Big Tiz benefits from a good comeback, but is eligible to a first-level allowance. Great Hot and May Day Rose face potential distance limitations.

Those five are the leading contenders in the La Canada, which will be run over a main track recently kind to speed – five of the last six races at 1 1/16 miles (through Friday) were won in gate-to-wire fashion.

It took Tiz Flirtatious four months to go from unraced to La Canada favorite. She won her Oct. 2 debut, an allowance four weeks later, followed by the $85,000 Cat’s Cradle Handicap for statebred fillies and mares Dec. 11. Marty Jones and owner-breeder Pamela Ziebarth need no reminder the La Canada is her first attempt at two turns.

“Any time you go two turns for the first time, it’s a challenge, especially raising in class, too,” Jones said. Tiz Flirtatious earned the best number of her three-start career, an 89 Beyer Speed Figure, last out on synthetic. Jones believes she is more effective on dirt.

“I know she ran really well on synthetic, but just being around her, I think she prefers dirt,” Jones said. Sharp works at Santa Anita support the notion, and her pedigree (by a full brother to Tiznow, Tizbud, out of a Victory Gallop mare) gives Tiz Flirtatious a license to run long, even from post 8.

“I wasn’t real happy with the draw,” Jones admitted. “I would have preferred not to be on the far outside.” Joel Rosario rides Tiz Flirtatious.

Capital Plan will stay the distance. Sold to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and owner Mark DeDomenico after a maiden win in August, she won her last two – setting the pace at 1 1/16 miles on synthetic, and rallying from behind at 1 1/4 miles on turf. For this versatile daughter of Rock Hard Ten, the challenge is surface.

“She comes from behind, on the lead, turf, synthetic,” assistant trainer Dan Ward noted. “Now, we try dirt.”

Capital Plan was foaled in June, relatively late in the season, and Ward said “she’s really big, and still growing.” Rafael Bejarano rides Capital Plan, who has enough speed to stay within striking range of expected pacesetter May Day Rose.

From the inside post, May Day Rose is likely make the lead. She had a compromising trip finishing eighth in the seven-furlong, Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on Dec. 31, and though her stamina is suspect, she enters with more wins (five) and earnings ($391,620) than any in the field.

Great Hot and Big Tiz stretch out following third-place finishes in sprint stakes. Love Theway Youare appears overmatched. Miss Radiance will take back and make a run in an effort to hit the board. Include Me Out runs long for the first time.

La Canada S. (G2), Post Time: 4:07 PT Sunday

Purse: $150,000; 1 1/16 mile





ML Odds


May Day Rose

B. Baffert

M. Garcia



Love Theway Youare

M. Cho

A. Quinonez



Big Tiz

M. Glatt

C. Nakatani



Great Hot (BRZ)

A. Avila

C. Sutherland



Miss Radiance

M. Puype

D. Flores



Include Me Out

R. Ellis

J. Talamo



Capital Plan

J. Hollendorfer

R. Bejarano



Tiz Flirtatious

M. Jones

J. Rosario