05/04/2009 11:00PM

Tizaqueena rules home roost


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Mike Stidham doesn't want to let Tizaqueena out of his sight.

"She's right here, in my office with me," Stidham said Tuesday morning, reached at his Arlington barn.

Perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but Tizaqueena no doubt occupies a prime spot in the Stidham barn after winning the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day at Churchill Downs. That victory made Tizaqueena 3 for 3 in 2009, 3 for 3 on turf, 5 for 6 in her career, and was her first graded stakes win.

Pressing and leading through a slow-to-moderate early pace on a wet turf course at Churchill, Tizaqueena had the lead in upper stretch, but was briefly headed inside the eighth pole by Dawn After Dawn, only to come back on and win by three-quarters of a length, going away.

"That's kind of been her style," said Stidham, who trains Tizaqueena for the Darley Stable. "She'll let those horses come to her, and then she kind of kicks again. But before, it wasn't quite as close as that, where the horse got all the way up to her."

The race might have demanded a game effort, but it did not appear to knock Tizaqueena out. "She vanned back, and didn't look like she lost an ounce," Stidham said.

Tizaqueena has moved from allowance to listed stakes to Grade 2 stakes this year, and she may have earned a slot in an even more prestigious race. Stidham said Tizaqueena would be nominated to the Grade 1 Just a Game Handicap at Belmont Park, and while a start there is hardly etched in stone, she figures to run back in four to six weeks, Stidham said.

Meanwhile, up at Arlington, the Stidham barn had a perfect opening weekend, going 3 for 3.

"We're in decent shape for the meet," Stidham. "We've got some 2-year-olds getting ready."

Afleet Deceit likely out for year

Afleet Deceit won an intense pace battle with Grade 1 Ashland Stakes winner Hooh Why in Saturday's Double Delta Stakes, but she lost the war. Afleet Deceit came out of the race with an injury to a hind leg, trainer Scott Becker said, and will most likely not race again until next year at Oaklawn Park.

Becker, who trains Afleet Deceit for Bill Stiritz, didn't specify the nature of the injury, but said surgery would be required, and that Afleet Deceit probably couldn't resume training until fall.

Afleet Deceit's injury was the second part of a nasty one-two punch absorbed by Becker and Stiritz last week. Graded-stakes-class sprinter Palanka City sustained a minor fracture to a cannon bone in a five-furlong workout Wednesday, and also will be out several months.

"A little while after working, you could see she was off, and we X-rayed her," said Becker. "It's up in the air whether she comes back to race or not. Mr. Stiritz probably will make that decision in November."

Proceed Bee, at least, got through a Tuesday workout without issue, and remains on track for the May 23 Arlington Classic, Becker said.

Afleet Deceit's win in the Double Delta was the eighth of nine straight victories on Saturday by inside-speed horses. The obvious bias had subsided by Sunday, but the Arlington Polytrack, quickened by rain late last week, remained fast for morning training through Tuesday. On Tuesday, five of 26 five-furlong workers were timed in less than 1:00, whereas last Friday, the fastest of 46 five-furlong works went in 1:01.60.

Coragil Cat following schedule

It worked last year, and it may be working again this year, too.

In 2008, trainer Greg Geier gave Coragil Cat a break at the end of the Fair Grounds meet, and brought the horse back from a short rest to win the Timeless Native Stakes and then the Grade 2 Hanshin Cup over Arlington's Polytrack.

The post-Fair Grounds rest and the Timeless Native win are in the books again this year, and Coragil Cat will get a chance to finish out the duplicate pattern in the May 23 Hanshin.

"Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, that's what we'd like to do," said Geier, who sent Coragil Cat out to an opening-day 1 3/4-length win in the Timeless Native.

Coragil Cat raced on turf and dirt in five starts after his 2008 Hanshin win, and lost those starts by more than 57 lengths combined. Awaiting the Arlington meet seemed an obvious call to Geier after Coragil Cat turned in three poor performances on Fair Grounds dirt this winter.

"He loves it over here," said Geier.

Another Hanshin candidate emerged Sunday, when Grand Sensation stretched out from Oaklawn Park dirt sprints to score a four-length Polytrack win in a one-mile allowance race Sunday.

"I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do now," said trainer Steve Hobby, adding that he would nominate Grand Sensation to the Hanshin. "He won well, but he did it without any pressure. Turf, dirt, mud, Poly - he'll do anything, so I can look whole lot of different directions."

Angela's Double heads feature

Entries for Thursday's 10-race card were pretty good, but the program is light on quality, with the ninth-race feature a six-furlong dash for second-level Illinois-bred allowance horses. Angela's Double, who ran well here last summer and was second at Hawthorne last month in her 2009 debut, looks like a prime player for trainer Moises Yanez.