02/07/2008 12:00AM

Tough Tiz's Sis is ready - for whatever


All things being equal, Bob Baffert would prefer to run Tough Tiz's Sis at Santa Anita on Saturday in the Grade 1, $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap. But one thing Baffert and his fellow trainers have learned this winter at Santa Anita is to expect the unexpected. So, just as a safety valve, Baffert also entered Tough Tiz's Sis in Sunday's Grade 2, $200,000 La Canada Stakes.

"I entered her for Sunday just in case we don't run on Saturday," Baffert said Thursday morning from his barn at Hollywood Park, where he has moved his top runners while Santa Anita renovates its Cushion Track surface. "It's frustrating. We don't even know what the new stuff is going to be like. All I do know is that, whenever we run, Tough Tiz's Sis is ready."

The 1 1/16-mile Santa Maria is far more tempting, Baffert said, because "I'd rather run for $50,000 more and in a Grade 1." The Santa Maria also came up fairly light, with just six runners, only two of whom have won a graded stakes race in this country.

Tough Tiz's Sis comes off a second-place finish last month to the highly regarded Zenyatta in the El Encino Stakes. Last fall, during Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, Tough Tiz's Sis won the Grade 1 Lady's Secret Handicap. In 4 starts at Santa Anita, she has 2 wins and 2 seconds. But the surface being installed this week bears no resemblance to the Cushion Track surface from last fall, or even last month, so handicappers will be taking a leap of faith.

Tough Tiz's Sis carries 119 pounds, one more than Somethinaboutlaura, who is coming back just two weeks after a fourth-place finish in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. Somethinaboutlaura has compiled a glittering record of 18 wins in 32 starts, but she is just 1 for 8 in all races at Santa Anita, including 1 for 6 on the main track.

"Hopefully that won't be against us," Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer of Somethinaboutlaura, said from his barn at Bay Meadows.

Hollendorfer said he would be at Santa Anita on Saturday to inspect the new surface before deciding whether to run.

"It's a short field and a good opportunity for a Grade 1 placing, so we thought we'd at least enter and take a look," Hollendorfer said. "It'll depend on how the racetrack looks. I'll have a good look at it Saturday morning."

Dawn After Dawn was fourth in the El Encino, 3 1/2 lengths behind Tough Tiz's Sis, though she was compromised by a loose saddle.

Double Trouble was first and Zardana fourth in a classified allowance race on the turf on Dec. 29.

Ron McAnally, who trains Zardana, is hoping the Brazilian import improves enough to be a get-well present for her owner, Arnold Zetcher, who had surgery for kidney stones earlier this week.

"She worked really well on Wednesday at Hollywood Park," McAnally said. "Normally these South Americans take a few months to come around. Even Bayakoa and Pasaena needed six or eight or 10 months."