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2023 Hirsch Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Adare Manor Tops Breeders’ Cup Distaff Prep At Del Mar
Adare Manor (Jon Putman/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

2023 Hirsch Stakes Preview & FREE Picks | Adare Manor Tops Breeders’ Cup Distaff Prep At Del Mar

Aaron previews the 2023 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) from Del Mar, then gives his top picks & long shots from this “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The Bob Baffert-trained Adare Manor tops the field of 5 female dirt routers in Saturday’s penultimate race.

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The press release:

Your basic small but select field – five 4-year-old fillies, all of them graded stakes winners – will go for a Grade I prize at Del Mar Saturday in the 53rd edition of the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, a mile and one-sixteenth on the main track that carries the honors of the game’s top stakes event, as well as a $400,000 prize.

Additionally, the Hirsch is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” challenge race that guarantees the winner an admission free berth in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which will be run this year at Santa Anita in November.

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Trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Hirsch in 2020 with Fighting Mad, will send out a pair of solid candidates in the Saturday headliner in Michael Lund Petersen’s Adare Manor and Jill Baffert or Connie Pageler’s Fun to Dream.

Trainer Phil D’Amato, who’ll be in quest of his first victory in the stakes, also will saddle two of the runners in Little Red Feather’s Elm Drive along with H & E Ranch’s Desert Dawn. Finally, trainer John Sadler, with five notches already on his belt in the Hirsch, will send out Keith Abrahams’ Kirstenbosch.

Adare Manor, an Uncle Mo offspring who has five victories and four seconds in 11 careers starts, well could be the favorite in the crucible. The speedster comes into the race off a trio of scores, the last two coming in Grade II stakes at Santa Anita. She figures to be on or near the lead throughout and she’ll have the saddle services of her regular rider, Juan Hernandez, for the test, which goes as Race 10 on an 11-race card.

The other Baffert filly, Fun to Dream, is a California homebred daughter of the trainer’s Hall of Fame stallion Arrogate out of the Maria’s Mon mare Lutess. She’s won six of her eight outings and is the lone runner in the lineup with a Grade I tally already to her credit, that coming in the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita last December. Hernandez had ridden the filly in all eight of her previous starts, but chose to go the other way for this affair. That left the door open for veteran Ramon Vazquez to pick up the mount.

Elm Drive, who’ll have Ricky Gonzalez in the tack, is a five-time winner who has gone two turns only once before with results that were not promising. She’s by the Tapit sire Mohaymen out of an Indian Charlie mare

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Desert Dawn, who is also by a Tapit stallion, this one named Cupid, has only won twice after 14 starts, but has a pair of seconds and five thirds that have built her earnings up to $696,525, tops among all the runners in the lineup. She’ll have regular rider Umberto Rispoli aboard as she goes again in a race where she ran second last year to the top mare Blue Stripe.

Kirstenbosch is a homebred by Midnight Lute with a trio of victories and six other placings to her credit. She’ll be handled by Hector Berrios in the select field. In her most recent start, Kirstenbosch finished second to Adare Manor in Santa Anita’s Santa Margarita Stakes on June 10.

In the race prior to the Clement L. Hirsch, 10 3-year-olds and up will travel a mile and one-sixteenth on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course in the $150,000 California Dreamin’ Stakes. The race, limited to California-breds, is having its 18th running.

First post Saturday is at 2 p.m. The California Dreamin’ should go off around 6 p.m. and the Clement L. Hirsch at approximately 6:30.