A trio of Grade 1 heroines will lead a superb field of six postward in Sunday’s $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar. The winner of the affair will also earn an automatic berth to the Distaff (G1) as part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge series.
The pace will be brisk as #6 Fighting Mad will clear the field from the outside, with #2 Ce Ce, #3 Hard Not to Love, and #5 Ollie’s Candy forwardly placed, as well.
#1 HANG A STAR — Kruljac trainee stretches out to a route for the initial time while landing in a demanding spot. Talented Tapizar filly has closed well in her last pair of sprint assignments, but she will need a career best to impact this standout field on Sunday. Drayden Van Dyke will be up.
#2 CE CE — Top pick is a dual Grade 1 vixen this season and comes off a third-place finish in the Santa Maria (G2). McCarthy pupil has trained well in preparation for her Del Mar debut, and she figures to get a much better trip in this spot after chasing lone speed last time out. Regular rider Victor Espinoza retains the mount.
#3 HARD NOT TO LOVE — Consistently very good daughter of Hard Spun rallied for second in the Santa Maria most recently for John Shirreffs. Ontario-bred bay has won or placed in each lifetime performance to date, and her versatile running style will give Mike Smith options throughout the race. Grade 1 queen looms large with her best.
#4 DOGTAG — Mandella pupil makes the turf-to-dirt move while in excellent current form. Three-time stakes victress shows four solid morning drills on the Del Mar main oval, and she will benefit if the pace is contested in the early going. The gray has longshot appeal beneath Rispoli.
#5 OLLIE’S CANDY — Defending champ comes off a pair of narrow defeats in the Apple Blossom (G1) and Ogden Phipps (G1) for John Sadler. Classy Candy Ride 5-year-old has never been better and enters with three excellent works on the course as well. Flavien Prat will guide the peaking mare.
#6 FIGHTING MAD — Horse to catch, and potentially beat, sports a nifty 3-2-1-0 mark at Del Mar for Baffert. New Year’s Day filly was ultra-impressive in her Santa Maria (G2) romp, and I think that she is a different animal when going a route of ground. Homebred is training like a filly sitting on another big performance with Cedillo in the controls.
- $20 Exacta: 2 with 3,6 ($40)
- $3 Trifecta: 2 with 3,6 with all ($24)