10/11/2012 3:49PM

Santa Anita: Teddy's Promise the class of split California Cup Distaff

Benoit & Associates
The Grade 1 winner Teddy’s Promise could go on to the Breeders’ Cup with a strong performance Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The California Cup runneth over in the $100,000 Distaff on Saturday at Santa Anita. Twenty-two California-bred fillies and mares entered the turf sprint, which was split for the first time in its 23-year history.

[CALIFORNIA CUP: Get Santa Anita PPs, watch Saturday's full card live]

Stakes winners Teddy’s Promise and Tiz Flirtatious return from layoffs as co-favorites in race 6. Sugarinthemorning is the class of the field in race 8 despite the presence of $615,896 earner Willa B Awesome, the richest starter on the Cal Cup card.

The 6 1/2-furlong Cal Cup Distaff is not a typical prep race for a $1 million dirt race. But that is the case with Teddy’s Promise, who won the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes on the Santa Anita main track last winter and could return to dirt Nov. 3 in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

“If she has an easy win, the owner is going to seriously consider coming back in the Breeders’ Cup,” trainer Ron Ellis said.

Ted and Judy Nichols bred and own Teddy’s Promise, a daughter of Salt Lake with six wins and $418,861 in earnings from 17 starts. The filly was freshened through summer, and Ellis considered starting her last weekend in the $100,000 L.A. Woman Stakes.

“I thought that race on dirt was going to come up tougher than it did,” he said. “So I pointed her more for the Cal Cup.”

Teddy’s Promise has run well enough on grass that surface should not be an issue. What about fitness?

“She’s really good,” Ellis said.

Edwin Maldonado takes over on Teddy’s Promise, whose main rival will make her first start since January.

Tiz Flirtatious won her first three starts and was favored over the Ellis-trained Include Me Out in the Grade 2 La Canada on Jan. 22. Include Me Out won by more than four and later established herself as California’s top filly or mare. Tiz Flirtatious finished third and went to the sidelines.

Marty Jones trains Tiz Flirtatious, who returns with a solid workout pattern and an ability to run well fresh. Sired by Tizbud, she is bred and owned by Pamela Ziebarth.

Other contenders in race 6 include stakes winners Warren’s Amber, Logical Single and Best Present Ever. Stakes-placed late-runner Unusual Hottie figures in the hunt.

Sugarinthemorning is expected to start favored in the second division of the Distaff, race 8. Ron McAnally trains the Candy Ride filly, bred and owned by Stephen Weissman. Although she has not won since July 2011, she has kept good company.

Sugarinthemorning finished second to Teddy’s Promise on Dec. 31 in the La Brea, and followed with runner-up finishes in three graded stakes this year, including her most recent start Aug. 19 at Del Mar.

Martin Garcia rides Sugarinthemorning, who has won on the hillside turf course and has a versatile style adaptable to any pace scenario.

Her main rivals include Sparkling Style, West Ruler, Going for a Spin, and Willa B Awesome.