08/06/2003 11:00PM

Tizdubai: Nothing but a home girl


DEL MAR, Calif. - From California to Kentucky to the Middle East and back to California again, the 2-year-old filly Tizdubai has logged enough miles to qualify for a free ticket to just about anywhere. For now, though, she must be content to stick with her stable at Del Mar, where she will make her stakes debut on Saturday in the 6 1/2-furlong Sorrento Stakes for trainer Eoin Harty.

The Sorrento is a good race, many times tipping off fillies to watch as events take on more significance. Harty won the race in 2001 with Tempera, who later won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and an Eclipse Award. Chilukki and Silverbulletday, also champions, won back-to-back runnings for trainer Bob Baffert in 1998-99 - Harty was assistant trainer at the time - while Phone Chatter won the 1993 version on her way to winning the Breeders' Cup and a championship, as did Brave Raj in 1986. Lite Light, winner of the 1990 Sorrento, won the Kentucky Oaks the following year.

Bearing the silks of Sheikh Mohammed, as well as a pricetag of $950,000, Tizdubai has every right to act the part of the high-born princess. Her air is regal, and her history is exotic. She went through a Keeneland sale as a weanling and spent last winter at the country club stables of Harty in Dubai, where four large, air-conditioned barns and their roomy stalls offer the ultimate in equine luxury. Talk about room service.

Her crib at Del Mar is a bit more modest. Camping out, in fact. Tizdubai resides in one of 14 covered, outdoor metal pens running between the Jenine Sahadi and Harty barns, behind the seven-furlong chute. If she minds, it doesn't show. She takes a nap in the slanting sun nearly every afternoon.

"The fillies like it outside," said Alex Hassinger, Harty's assistant. "And Tizdubai is already asserting herself. She was touching noses with the older mare in the next pen the other day and gave out a good squeal, letting everyone know who was boss."

Truth be told, Tizdubai is nothing more than a good old-fashioned home girl, one of the few native Californians in a veritable United Nations of accents and languages in the Harty stable. At last count, Hassinger was able to identify staff from England, Ireland, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and Guatemala. Californian Jake Vinci, the barn foreman, is a Santa Rosa native whose family headed West from Kentucky in 1840.

"I like her a lot," said the straightforward Jake. "Comes from a real good California family."

He got that right. Tizdubai shares parentage with both Tiznow and Budroyale, as well as their talented but injury prone younger brother, Tizbud. Budroyale was a blue-collar star, up from the claimers to win more than $2 million in prize money. His greatest moment came at the 1999 Breeders' Cup when he finished second to Cat Thief. Tiznow got even and then some, winning the Classic in 2000 and 2001, and was Horse of the Year along the way.

They were all bred and raised at Harris Ranch, in the heart of the California's San Joaquin Valley. Their sire, Cee's Tizzy, and their dam, Cee's Song, have become a steady couple, contributing no less than six foals to the Thoroughbred genetic pool. Eoin Harty knew them both, before they started to date, back in the days he worked as an assistant to trainer John Russell.

"Kathy galloped them both," Harty said, referring to Mrs. Eoin Harty, an accomplished rider. "In fact, we were married the week after Cee's Tizzy ran in the Super Derby. She had traveled with him to Louisiana. So he has always had a good deal of significance in our family."

The Super Derby marked the end of the line for Cee's Tizzy as a racehorse. He fractured a knee in the race, but his record to that point merited a chance at stud. As for Cee's Song, Harty recalls her as an opinionated mare who banged heads with a series of tough European imports on the California turf before retiring to a life as a broodmare.

"She wasn't recalcitrant in her training, or difficult in that sense," Harty said. "But she did have a strong personality. Because of that, Tizdubai reminds me more of her dam than her sire. And from what I saw of Tiznow, he had that streak as well."

Tizdubai has a long way to go before she ranks with her older brothers. But at least she has a headstart. Neither Budroyale nor Tiznow made an impression at age 2 while little sister broke her maiden in her first start on July 6 at Hollywood Park.

She cut a piece of her left front heel that day, forcing her to miss the rest of the meet. The heel has healed, good as new, and now Harty and his crew will find out if Tizdubai can pick up where her family left off.