10/04/2014 10:08PM

Tiz Windy captures Indiana Oaks

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Jamie Linscott
Brian Hernandez guides Tiz Windy to victory in the Indiana Oaks.

SHELBYVILLE, Indiana – At the end of March, five races into her career, Tiz Windy still was a maiden, but she is a different, better horse now, and Tiz Windy was much the best Saturday night at Indiana Grand Racecourse,  capturing the Grade 2, $204,400 Indiana Oaks by 2 3/4 lengths over favored Unbridled Forever.

Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. has been riding Tiz Windy most of this year and working her in the morning, and he has seen her evolution in recent months.

“She just keeps getting better and better,” Hernandez said.

Tiz Windy, by Tiznow-Windyindy, was bred by Jim Tafel, who died earlier this year, and is owned by Tafel’s estate. She did not make her first two-turn dirt start until March 30, when she won a Gulfstream Park maiden race, and Tiz Windy returned from a summer freshening in Sept. 13 with a strong second-level allowance win at Churchill.

She built on that performance Saturday in the local Oaks, with Hernandez shadowing the every move of favored Unbridled Forever. Penwith, who had an inside draw, made the lead into the first turn and set a quick pace, going her opening half-mile in 47.01 seconds, more than a second faster than the Indiana Derby pace one race later. Unbridled Forever made a somewhat early move into contention, rushing three wide to engage Penwith as the field bent into the far turn, and there was Tiz Windy right behind her. Unbridled Forever overtook Penwith at the top of the stretch and held the lead by a half-length at the stretch call, but Tiz Windy had another gear and rushed past to win going away.

“That was a big acceleration she had tonight,” said Hernandez.

Tiz Windy was timed in 1:42.70 for 1 1/16 miles on a fast track and paid $9.80 winning her first stakes. Unbridled Forever was easily second best, checking in more than four lengths in front of third-place Penwith.

“She ran a good race,” said Dallas Stewart, Unbridled Forever’s trainer. “She just got beat by a better horse on the night. That’s a nice filly.”

Trainer Carl Nafzger stayed in Kentucky, and trainer Ian Wilkes, Nafzger’s former assistant, saddled Tiz Windy.

“She just keeps improving,” Wilkes said. “I think she’s got a bright future. She should be a good 4-year-old.”