Clement L. Hirsch is a "Win and You're In" race for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff
The Grade I, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes will have its 51st running Sunday, August 1 at Del Mar and seven high class fillies and mares have signed up to give it a go.
Three of the femmes have special credentials and will draw the most attention at the wickets and on the racetrack. The trio consists of Qatar Racing and Flurry Racing Stables' Shedaresthedevil, Tabor, Magnier and Smith's As Time Goes By and Ciaglia Racing and Highland Yard's Venetian Harbor.
The mile and one-sixteenth main track headliner will go as the ninth of 10 races on the Sunday program, which has a first post of 2 p.m.
||As Time Goes By
Shedaresthedevil has shipped in from the east coast to contest the Hirsch, which has been won by such top distaffers as Stellar Wind (twice), Beholder, Zenyatta (three times), Azeri (twice) and Paseana. The shipper races out of the red-hot barn of trainer Brad Cox and sports a record of seven wins in 14 starts and earnings of $1,867,318. The 4-year-old daughter of the More Than Ready sire Daredevil has won five graded stakes, including a pair of Grade Is. She'll come with her regular rider, eastern-based Florent Geroux.
As Time Goes By is a bay filly by Triple Crown champion American Pharoah who'll be making the eighth start of her career. The Bob Baffert trainee was last out on May 22 in the Santa Maria Stakes at Santa Anita, a mile and one-sixteenth that she won by a nose. Hall of Famer Mike Smith is signed on to ride the multiple stakes winner of $380,600.
Venetian Harbor also comes into the Hirsch off a stakes victory, hers being the Grade II Monrovia at Santa Anita on June 5. It was her fourth overall victory and enhanced her bankroll to $633,400. The quick daughter of Munnings has primarily been sprinting and her speed could prove dangerous in the Hirsch. Trainer Richard Baltas has drafted Mario Gutierrez to handle the 4-year-old Sunday.
Venetian Harbor Ready for Clement L. Hirsch
Venetian Harbor has won three Grade II stakes in her nine-race career. But it has been close (twice) but no cigar in three attempts to put a Grade I victory on the 4-year-old filly's commendable career.
Accomplishing that coveted feat will be the aim Sunday when trainer Richard Baltas sends out daughter of Munnings, owned by Ciaglia Racing and Highland Yard, in the Grade I, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch.
Venetian Harbor's has produced Grade II scores at a mile (February, 2020, Las Virgenes, Santa Anita), seven furlongs (October, 2020, Raven Run, Keeneland) and 6 ½ furlongs on turf (June 5, Monrovia, Santa Anita).
Against Grade I competition the results have been runner-up efforts in the 1 1/16-mile Ashland (July, 2020, Keeneland) and seven-furlong Test (August, 2020, Saratoga) and last of eight in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf Sprint (November, 2020, Keeneland)
That said, the success in the Monrovia, coming at the end of a seven-month layoff, and a string of recent bullet works at San Luis Rey Downs, offer plenty of reason for optimism about the 1 1/16-mile Hirsch.
"Second off a layoff," Baltas said, citing a well-known handicapping angle. "And she's just a very strong worker. That's just her.
"It's a very tough race, there are some very good mares in there and it might be a little long for her. But if she can get out there, relax a little bit and get a breather we'll see what happens.
"Our strategy isn't necessarily to go, you play the break. But I don't know if anybody is going to want to go right with her ... She's done very well, winning three Grade IIs, but Grade Is are always the goal for everyone."
The Hirsch is a "Win and You're In" race for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff at Del Mar on November 6.
OffTrackBetting.com - US Legal Del Mar OTB is a great way to bet horse racing at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.
SHEDARESTHEDEVIL LOOMS OVER 2021 HIRSCH
Shedaresthedevil departed Del Mar in September of 2019 after competing in two stakes races for 2-year-old fillies.
The daughter of Daredevil had finished third in the Grade II, $200,000 Sorrento before being switched from dirt to grass for a fourth-place result after setting the pace in the $100,000 Juvenile Fillies Turf on the closing day of the meeting.
Shedaresthedevil stepped off a van in the stable area of the track Wednesday evening following a journey from Kentucky. And trust Eric Gary, the assistant to trainer Brad Cox who arrived a while earlier, the two years had made a big difference.
"She is one big, mature filly," said Gary.
Gary, a Louisiana-born, second-generation trainer has only been working for nationally-prominent Cox for a couple months. But with Cox and his son Blake occupied at Saratoga with Essential Quality in Saturday's $600,000 Jim Dandy, among others, Gary got the call to travel with and saddle Shedaresthedevil for Sunday's Grade I, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar.
Shedaresthedevil, whose five graded stakes victories in 2020-21 include the Grade I 2020 Kentucky Oaks and Grade I 2021 La Troienne, both at Churchill Downs, is the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Hirsh, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Gary estimated that Shedaresthedevil might "be pushing toward 18" hands in height - nearly 6-feet measured at the withers, or top of the shoulder. He invited a visitor into the stall to stand next to her for verification and it produced no argument.
"She's very easy going around the barn, but very aggressive when it's time for training or racing," Gary said.
Shedaresthedevil won four times and was never out of the money in seven starts in 2020 for earnings of $1,193,070. This year she's 2-for-3 with wins in the Grade II Azeri at Oaklawn Park in March, the La Troienne in April and a third to Letruska, the current No. 1 rated older filly or mare on dirt, in the Grade I Ogden Phipps on June 5 at Belmont Park.
All three races were at 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the Hirsch. Because of the huge layout of Belmont Park, the Phipps was contested around one turn. Connections for Shedaresthedevil are hoping that a return to two turns creates a return to the winner's circle.
Del Mar will be her fourth track in as many starts this year.
"She travels really well," Gary said. "We've had her out a couple times and she has handled the track really well. I think this race has probably been a part of the plan for her all along. The ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup here, so that would figure."
Shedaresthedevil did her serious training at Ellis Park in Kentucky and got high praise from Cox's assistant there according to Gary. Race instructions and strategy will be up to Cox and jockey Florent Geroux.
"They're very close, I know they're very happy with the way she has trained and they have a plan they've already talked about," Gary said.