09/26/2013 6:33PM

Santa Anita: Marketing Mix, Tiz Flirtatious renew rivalry in Rodeo Drive

Shigeki Kikkawa
Marketing Mix has lost only once in three starts this season heading into the Rodeo Drive.

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Marketing Mix and Tiz Flirtatious were separated by only a head after a thrilling running of the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park in May. The rematch occurs in Saturday’s $250,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles at Santa Anita.

The outcome will determine how Marketing Mix and Tiz Flirtatious are perceived in the build-up to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf here on Nov. 2.

Since the Gamely, Marketing Mix and Tiz Flirtatious have won stakes.

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Tiz Flirtatious was the easy winner of her only start, the Grade 2 John Mabee Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar on Aug. 11. Marketing Mix won the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap against males at Hollywood Park in July, but was fourth as the even-money favorite in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 17.

The Beverly D. Stakes is Marketing Mix’s only loss in three starts this year. Trainer Tom Proctor offered no excuses on Thursday for the setback.

“She probably just got outrun,” Proctor said.

Owned by Glen Hill Farm, Marketing Mix won the 2012 Rodeo Drive, her first victory in a Grade 1. A month later, Marketing Mix finished second by three-quarters of a length to Zagora in the Filly and Mare Turf, a defeat that enhanced her reputation among the nation’s turf females.

The winner of Saturday’s race will earn a fees-paid berth to the Filly and Mare Turf as part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program.
The field of seven in the Rodeo Drive includes six stakes winners. Topic won the CTT and TOC Handicap at Del Mar in August. My Gi Gi won the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2012. Starstruck won the Grade 3 Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth Park in July. Lady of Shamrock has won six stakes in her career. She was third in the Gamely in May and second in the Mabee.

The only non-stakes winner in the field is Vionnet, who has been stakes-placed twice.

Tiz Flirtatious was only the winner of a stakes for California-bred females at this time last year. She has been in the best form of her career this year, with graded stakes wins in the Mabee and Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes here last March.

The Rodeo Drive will be her first start at 1 1/4 miles.

“I’m confident in her,” trainer Marty Jones said. “The mile and a quarter is something new for her. Marketing Mix beat us going a mile and an eighth. This will be a big test.”

Owned by her breeder, Pamela Ziebarth, Tiz Flirtatious was not fully extended in the Mabee, winning by 2 1/4 lengths. Jones is hoping for a similar trip on Saturday.

“It didn’t seem to take a lot out of her,” Jones said of the Mabee. “It worked out very well. Hopefully, she can settle.”