By Steve Andersen DRF INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Jockey Corey Nakatani spent the month getting to know the 3-year-old Tiz a Minister in morning workouts. He put that information to good use in Sunday’s $100,750 Affirmed Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park.
When Tiz a Minister turned into the stretch at the back of the field of eight 3-year-olds, Nakatani thought he still had a chance.
“I felt I had a ton of horse,” Nakatani said.
With a furlong remaining, Tiz a Minister was fifth as Nakatani guided the colt toward the inside with confidence.
“I’ve figured out he’s a lot better if you have him in a battle with a horse,” he said. “That’s why I stayed inside.”
Tiz a Minister ($12.40) rallied past early stretch leader Manando and deep stretch leader Den’s Legacy to win the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap by a length. Owned by Stephen Young and trained by Paul Aguirre, Tiz a Minister ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.79.
“Paul had him going in the right direction,” Nakatani said.
In the stretch, it appeared that trainer Bob Baffert would have a 1-2 finish with Manando and Den’s Legacy. Manando set a pace of 23.36 and 46.74 seconds and led by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth pole. But Den’s Legacy, sixth in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in April, was closing well and led in the final sixteenth before being passed by Tiz a Minister.
Den’s Legacy held second, finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Manando, who was followed by Dice Flavor, Just Win Baby, Broadway Empire, Dirty Swagg, and Counting Days.
Tiz a Minister, by Ministers Wild Cat, has won 3 of 13 starts and $450,780. The Affirmed was his second stakes win and first in a graded stakes. He was claimed for $40,000 when second in a maiden race at Del Mar last summer.
Tiz a Minister won the $300,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes at Santa Anita in January. He was later third in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and fourth in the Santa Anita Derby before finishing third as the even-money favorite in the $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes for California-breds here April 27.
Tiz a Minister emerged from that race with a bruised foot that ended any chance of a quick turnaround for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs a week later.
As recently as Friday, Aguirre considered scratching Tiz a Minister from the Affirmed Handicap in favor of the $100,000 Silky Sullivan Stakes for California-bred 3-year-olds on turf at Golden Gate Fields on June 9.