01/04/2009 12:00AM

Tizfiz takes San Gorgonio on front end


ARCADIA, Calif. - In many ways, Tizfiz is turning out to be a steal.

Claimed for $50,000 here in October, she won her graded stakes debut in the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Sunday, setting a slow pace and leading throughout.

The race strategy that trainer Rafael DeLeon told jockey Agapito Delgadillo was simple.

"He said to go to the front and go as slow as you can," Delgadillo recalled.

Tizfiz ($21) set an early pace of 24.96 and 50.27 seconds, and held off a late surge from Marzelline to win the Grade 2 San Gorgonio by a nose. Solar Miss finished third, with Valbenny, the 2-1 favorite, fourth in the field of eight fillies and mares. Tizfiz ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:49.62.

Marzelline, the subject of a large early win bet that knocked her odds down to 4-5, closed from fourth to just miss.

The victory was a milestone for DeLeon and Delgadillo, their first in a Grade 2. For DeLeon, it was his first win in a graded stakes. Delgadillo rode Jungle Price to a victory in the Grade 3 Hollywood Turf Express in 2006.

Tizfiz is owned by Brian Kahn and Richard O'Neill. A 5-year-old mare, Tizfiz won the Queen of the Green Handicap at Turf Paradise last month, her first stakes win. She has won 5 of 12 starts and $233,160.