10/31/2002 12:00AM

Tiz grand she's a Cal-bred


ARCADIA, Calif. - For the past two years, the California Cup has given West Coast cheerleaders a chance to raise a hearty rah rah rah in the wake of Tiznow's performances on the national stage. There it was, in living color, proof that a true champion could be produced in California, winning back-to-back runnings of the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Alas, Tiznow was retired, and it has been a long year without him.

No horse emerged to pick up the torch. True, Grey Memo traveled halfway around the world to win a million-dollar race in Dubai. But no one could get a bet down. How frustrating was that? And even though Sky Jack came through to win the Hollywood Gold Cup, he proved too frail once again to maintain his tenuous perch at the top of the local breed.

On Saturday, beginning at high noon, the Oak Tree Racing Association and the California Thoroughbred Breeders' Association will present the 13th version of the California Cup. If there is another Sky Jack - or a budding Best Pal - hidden somewhere among the 110 runners entered in the 10 races, so far the secret has been safe. Stranger things have happened, however. Sky Jack was nearly anonymous when he won the 2000 running of the Cal Cup Classic at 11-1.

When in doubt, say the experts, scour the DNA. The search led to the last race of the day. There, languishing at the absolute bottom of the Cal Cup program, designated as the final horse to set foot on the racetrack and the last one to enter the starting gate, is a filly of definite promise.

Tizalovelylady has drawn post 13 for the $125,000 California Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles. This puts her closer to the corned beef stand than the inside rail, and provides an immediate excuse for disappointment. Then again, she may not need one. Not if she runs back to her maiden victory at Santa Anita on Oct. 9, when she dusted a field of all comers by five lengths going one mile. It was the third start of her career after two sprints run at distances that were obviously beneath her dignity.

Tizalovelylady has a lot going for her, not the least of which is her trainer, Jay Robbins, the man behind Tiznow, as well as Flying Continental and Nostalgia's Star. She was bred and is owned by Joan and Arthur Rogers, proprietors of Applebite Farm near Stockton, where they stand Tizalovelylady's sire, Western Fame. And on Saturday, the filly will be ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr. in place of the movie-making Gary Stevens, who is spending most of his time these days on the "Seabiscuit" set.

All that makes for a nice package, but the bottom line is, in this case, the bottom line. Tizalovelylady is the first foal of Tizso, and Tizso is a full sister to Tiznow.

The Rogers bought Tizso in the early spring of 1998 from her breeder, Cecila Straub Rubens. At the time, Tiznow was merely a yearling, and big brother Budroyale was pecking around in claimers and allowance company.

Then, barely a week after the sale, Budroyale scored the first stakes win of his life in the San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita. The following year, Budroyale was good enough to finish second in the Breeders' Cup Classic, after which little brother Tiznow came along to win the race in 2000 and 2001.

Needless to say, Tizso's value climbed, and her daughter has given Robbins a bright spot in a barn with a gaping hole. With earnings of $6.4 million, Tiznow is impossible to replace.

"There's less stress," said Robbins, preferring to dwell on the positive. "It's a little more relaxing. He was getting to be kind of a challenge to train."

That's putting it mildly. At Del Mar, during the summer of 2001, a local television network managed to capture Tiznow during one of his morning dramas, when he tested the limits of behavioral science. Robbins got calls that night from friends who saw the whole thing on the news.

Then at Santa Anita, as the 2001 Breeders' Cup Classic approached, Tiznow treated the viewers of the TVG morning workout program to a Shakespearean display of recalcitrance, complete with an increasingly frustrated Chris McCarron trying to make the big colt work a simple mile.

Robbins and McCarron finally improvised, and Tiznow put in his mile once around from the half-mile pole.

"Just like we planned," dead-panned Robbins.

Robbins and his wife, Sandy, paid Tiznow a visit in September at WinStar Farm in Kentucky, where he had been bred to more than 100 mares. The Robbins own one of them.

"He looked good," Jay Robbins said. "They ride him every day, around the paddock where Kris S. used to live. And they say he hasn't been the least bit reluctant to gallop."

Tizalovelylady reminds Robbins of Tiznow, and not just in her coloring, her substance, and her smooth way of going.

"She can have a mind of her own," Robbins said. "Just like her uncle."

That may be all she needs.