09/06/2008 11:00PM

Tough Tiz's Sis in the clear in Ruffian


ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Bob Baffert didn't need his star filly to win Saturday's Grade 1 Ruffian. His backup did the job just fine, thank you.

Baffert scratched his champion Indian Blessing from the Ruffian, but still won it anyway, as Tough Tiz's Sis splashed her way to a 12 1/4-length victory in the $300,000 Ruffian at Belmont Park. Copper State, second to Ginger Punch in the Go for Wand, managed second again by 1 1/4 lengths length over Stage Luck.

Miraculous Miss, Rite Moment, 5-2 favorite Spring Waltz, Little Belle, and Boca Grande completed the order of finish.

Baffert opted to scratch Indian Blessing in order to keep her sprinting and plans to run her in either next Saturday's $400,000 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes at six furlongs or in the Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom going 6 1/2 furlongs at Belmont on Sept. 20. Tough Tiz's Sis had been chasing the top-ranked mare in the country, Zenyatta, all summer, thus was meeting lesser company here.

The only concern regarding Tough Tiz's Sis was her 0-for-3 record on off-tracks. Baffert explained that in last year's Breeders' Cup she had gotten shuffled back and resented the mud in her face.

His only instructions to jockey Edgar Prado was to keep Tough Tiz's Sis in the clear and keep her face clean.

Tough Tiz's Sis broke on top, but then settled just off of Rite Moment who set fractions of 22.69 seconds and 45.03 for the opening half-mile. Prado couldn't hold Tough Tiz's Sis anymore and leaving the half-mile pole he let her make the lead. She was simply galloping through the slop - created by the heavy downpours associated with Tropical Storm Hanna - and she cruised home an easy winner, covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.46. She returned $10.60.

"Coming out of the gate, I just put her in the clear and she did the rest," Prado said. "She was handling it very well. Around the turn, she grabbed the bit and she just took command of the race and she had plenty left in the tank. I was impressed."

So was Baffert, who watched the race from his home in Southern California.

"I still can't believe what she did," said Baffert, who trains Tough Tiz's Sis for owners Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. "I'm going to watch it all afternoon. When I saw Edgar Prado look back at the quarter pole I said, 'Oh my goodness.' "

Tough Tiz's Sis, a daughter of Tiznow, has won 8 of 20 starts and earned $903,792. She will be pointed to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.