01/09/2003 12:00AM

Tizbud's aura all in the family

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Tizbud was at it again, doing his best impression of big brother. On his way to the training track for a simple morning gallop, he managed to stop and look around long enough to grow a winter coat. Once he emerged from the tunnel, led by Larry Benaviedes, Tizbud again paused to reflect, staring back toward the big, empty grandstand.

After a few minutes more, Benaviedes unsnapped the shank. Tizbud glanced around, considered his options, and jogged off. Up in the stands, John Sadler smiled and shook his head.

"There he goes," said the trainer. "Finally."

There is no rushing a horse like Tizbud, and no reason to, considering his potential for some kind of greatness. , expectations are understandably high for Tizbud, the young brother of millionaire Budroyale and two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow. So high, in fact, that Tizbud could go favored in Saturday's San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita Park, merely on the strength of a maiden race victory nearly two months ago. And all that family.

The San Fernando, at 1 1/16 miles, is wide open on paper, and it could play that way on the track. Century City and Mananan McLir will try to transfer their grass form to dirt, but if that fails, Tracemark, Pass Rush, and Rushin' to Altar will be more than happy to fill the void. Tizbud remains the true unknown.

There is little doubt that Tizbud favors Tiznow in more ways than one. They both sustained a similar hind leg injury at 2, preventing their participation in the 3-year-old classics. In appearance, their coats shine the same dark, metallic brown, and the carriage of the head is identically regal. Jay Robbins trained Tiznow and had Tizbud as an unstarted 2-year-old before managing owner Michael Cooper shifted stables to Sadler last year.

"Tizbud does not have the same size behind as his brother," noted Sadler. "But from the shoulder forward, they look very much the same."

So far, their running styles are also a match.

"Eerily similar," Sadler confirmed. "Like Tiznow, he's not the kind of horse to drop six lengths out of it and come with a 23 [second] final quarter. He's got that real strong gallop that just keeps going and going."

Of course, Tizbud can hardly be given too much credit for running away from High and Low Vixen and Seeking the Cat at 1 1/16 miles on Nov. 14 at Hollywood, particularly when compared to Tiznow's abject refusal to let either Giant's Causeway or Sakhee win the Breeders' Cup Classic. There are pitfalls in thinking that lightning could strike again.

"Sure, you can find mares that will throw runners with regularity," Sadler said. "I had Rosie's K.T. before his sister Melair. He wasn't in her league, but few were. Funny thing was, Melair's dam could be bred to anything out here - Oats and Corn, Debonair Roger - and she'd get a runner. Then she was sold to Kentucky and started going to stallions like Mr. Prospector. She got real nice foals who maybe broke their maidens, but nothing more."

Bloodlines foment ceaseless mystery, and frustration. Two horses with identical parentage and early environment can turn out as different as snowflakes. Just because Tiznow won the 2001 San Fernando, it does not mean that his younger brother is a lock. In fact, it is rare enough that Tizbud got this far.

The San Fernando will be run for the 50th time on Saturday. Some of racing's greatest names decorate its history. They also represent very typical tales of how family trends are far from predictable.

Gun Bow was second only to Kelso among the nation's best older horses of the mid-1960's. His victory over champion filly Lamb Chop in a division of the 1964 San Fernando led to heroics in such races as the Strub Stakes, the San Antonio, the Metropolitan Mile, the Donn, the Brooklyn, and the Whitney. And yet Gun Bow's full sister Miss Gun Bow could not win in eight starts, while his half-brother Majestic Bow managed one win in seven tries.

Damascus did business at Santa Anita during the winter of 1968 as the reigning Horse of the Year. He won the San Fernando with ease, and spent the rest of the season in tough battles with Dr. Fager. Meanwhile, his line went dry. His subsequent 11 half-siblings and one full sibling could produce only nine wins among them.

Now comes Tizbud, with pedigree in tow, and no guarantees beyond a fair shake at the starting gate. Ron McAnally, who sends out Rushin' to Altar in the San Fernando, learned long ago that family gets a horse only so far. The only time he forgot, he was quickly reminded by his longtime assistant Arullio "Cuba" Baez.

"We had a lot of Allen Paulson's beautifully bred horses," McAnally said. "A half-brother to Spectacular Bid, full brothers to other champions, on down the line. I was going over them with Cuba, and it didn't seem like he was listening. I said, 'Cuba. Did you hear me? This is Spectacular Bid's brother.' "

Cuba looked at his boss and practically spat a reply.

"Ronnie, I got five full brothers, and not one of them is worth a damn."