A field of seven fillies and mares will line up in Sunday’s $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar with the winner earning a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
The Hirsch has been won by many greats including Bayakoa, Azeri (twice), Zenyatta (a record three times) Beholder and Stellar Wind (twice).
Jerry Hollendorfer saddled last year’s winner Unique Bella, and a year later the Hall of Fame trainer finds himself unwelcome at Southern California racetracks after six equine deaths in his barn.
John Shirreffs, who trained the great Zenyatta to victories in this race in 2008, 2009 and 2010 sends out the 8-5 morning line favorite Paradise Woods. The five-year-old mare was beaten at 1-9 last out in a runner up finish in the Santa Maria (G2) at Santa Anita.
Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has the return call on the mare who will break from the five post.
The filly that beat her was La Force, who is the 3-1 third choice in the field. She breaks from the rail with jockey Drayden Van Dyke.
Secret Spice is the 2-1 second choice. The Richard Baltas trainee was a game second in the La Troien (G1) at Churchill Downs in her last outing. Flavien Prat will get the leg up.
Completing the field are the Bob Baffert trained Just a Smidge (20-1), Wilshire (G3) runner up Ollie’s Candy (5-1), Bertrando winner Queen Bee to You (20-1) and Spring to the Wind (20-1) who was fifth in the Bed of Roses (G3) at Belmont Park in her last outing.
Let’s head out to Del Mar for Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Del Mar Race 7 The Clement L. Hirsch G1 (Post time 5:20 PT)
#3 Secret Spice 2-1
#5 Paradise Woods 8-5
#1 La Force 3-1
#4 Ollie’s Candy 5-1
The filly shipped to Churchill Downs last out on Oaks Day and ran a solid second in the La Troien (G1). The filly dueled for the early lead and got clear in the stretch but drifted and was unable to hold off the winner She’s a Julie. She was 3 1/2 lengths clear of the talented Blue Prize. Two back the Baltas trainee tracked the early pace and drew clear to win the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. She returns off nearly a three-month break and has worked quickly over the main track here for a barn that is 14% winners with runners coming back of a 61-180-day layoff. She reunites with Prat who as aboard last fall when she popped a 106 Beyer beating Alw-1 optional claimers.
The Shirreffs trainee stalked the early pace after bobbling coming out of the gate. She had to wait for some running room and then could not catch La Force when clear, settling for the runner up spot in the Santa Maria (G2) at 1-9. Two back in the Santa Margarita (G2) she trounced La Force by 10 1/2 lengths. That win was her first since taking the ’17 Zenyatta (G1), snapping a seven race losing streak. She is capable of much better than her last outing.
The mare got a great trip in the Santa Maria last out to pull off the upset at 5-1. It was just her third win in 25 career starts. She was second in this race last year and followed that up with a second in the Zenyatta. She will need to run back to the two efforts to beat her main rivals in here.
WIN: #3 to win at 2-1 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 1,3,4,5
TRI: 3,5 / 1,3,4,5 / 1,3,4,5,7