DEL MAR, CA – LNJ Foxwoods homebred Dogtag will take another shot on dirt when she faces five proven females in Sunday’s $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.
The Richard Mandella trainee’s only prior main track attempt was an off-turf Saratoga maiden special weight in 2018, where she finished fourth.
The winner of the Clement L. Hirsch will receive an automatic position in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
The Clement L. Hirsch is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to fillies and mares ages 3 and up. Let’s take a look at the full field:
#1 Hang a Star – Trainer Ian Kruljac pushes her into the deep end of the pool for her first time routing after running in a pair of graded stakes sprints earlier this summer at Santa Anita Park. The Tapizar filly’s better of those efforts saw her finish second in May’s 6-furlong Desert Stormer Stakes (G3), 1 length behind Bellafina, the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) runner-up.
#2 Ce Ce – She looked like a beast earlier this year, winning the Beholder Mile (G1) at Santa Anita Park and the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn Park against several top distaff division runners. She faltered in her most recent start, finishing a well-beaten third in May’s Santa Maria Stakes (G2), but she has won both of her prior returns from a layoff and has worked well over the local strip.
#3 Hard Not to Love – She is ready for her third attempt at winning a route race, having finished second behind familiar rivals in both the Beholder Mile and the Santa Maria in her most recent appearances. This one-eyed marvel is a half-sister to the $1 million Queen’s Plate champion Wonder Gadot and has never missed the board in her career, compiling an 8-5-2-1 record that includes last December’s 7-furlong La Brea Stakes (G1).
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#4 Dogtag – After her career debut was rained off the grass, the War Front filly reeled off 4 victories over that surface, including 3 at the stakes level, while splitting her time between top turf trainers Chad Brown and Mandella. While this is a tough ask for her first “true” dirt test, Mandella recently enjoyed great success with another War Front offspring on dirt – he conditioned Omaha Beach to 4 graded stakes wins and a runner-up finish in last year’s Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
#5 Ollie’s Candy – She won last year’s event with an aggressive front-end ride that earned her a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), where she finished fourth. The versatile Paul and Karen Eggert homebred came within a neck of winning a pair of turf graded stakes at Del Mar in 2018, showing her love for the seaside venue, and enters this race after missing out by a head and a neck in the Apple Blossom and the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1), respectively.
#6 Fighting Mad – After sprinting in her first 4 starts, the Gary and Mary West homebred stretched out impressively to win last summer’s Torrey Pine Stakes (G3) over this course by 8 lengths. She returned to routing in her most recent start with an even more impressive effort, defeating two familiar rivals in the Santa Maria, and has a local record of 3-2-1-0 that cannot be ignored.
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The Clement L. Hirsch Stakes serves as race 10 on the Sunday card at Del Mar. The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on August 8 at Saratoga with the Ballerina Stakes (Filly & Mare Sprint).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.