DEL MAR, CA – Gary and Mary West homebred Fighting Mad put herself on the lead early and never yielded before taking top prize in Sunday’s $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.
The Clement Hirsch is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Fighting Mad receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Distaff at Keeneland this November.
Breaking aggressively from the far outside post 6 under Abel Cedillo as the 9/5 favorite, Fighting Mad was alone on the front end by several lengths heading into the clubhouse turn. With the defending champion Ollie’s Candy giving closest chase, she posted opening fractions of :23.15, :46.55, and 1:10.57.
Running outside of Ollie’s Candy heading into the far turn, Ce Ce and her inner rival both tipped out midway through and made bids near the top of the stretch. Fighting Mad had plenty left in the tank and kept her rivals at bay the length of the stretch.
The Bob Baffert trainee crossed a 1/2-length ahead in a final time of 1:43.46 for the 1 1/16-mile fast dirt route.
“I had the same instructions today that I had yesterday,” said Cedillo, who rode Baffert’s Thousand Words to victory in Saturday’s Shared Belief Stakes. “Get her out of there and see if you can get to the front. She really broke sharply and wanted to go right away. I got her to relax some on the backside, then she went right on with it. She’s just an amazing filly.”
Ollie’s Candy fought hard but was unable to make up enough ground in time and settled for second, while Ce Ce was a well-beaten third.
Hang a Star, Dogtag, and Hard Not to Love completed the order of finish.
Fighting Mad’s victory was her second straight following the Santa Maira Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park last May. The 4-year-old New Year’s Day filly improved her overall record to 8-5-1-0 with $444,008 earned.
“I was a little bit worried about her because she was getting pretty warm in the paddock, but Abel knows her pretty well and he knows speed is her weapon,” Baffert said. “To look at her, you wouldn’t think she could go (the distance), but when she started opening up, I figured he must know what he’s doing. Basically, she ran them off their feet. The way she acted in the paddock, she ran an incredible race. She was trembling and sweating and I was worried, but once the race started, she was pretty serious.”
Fighting Mad returned $5.60 to win, $3 to place, and $2.20 to show. Ollie’s Candy brought back $3.60 to place and $2.60 to show, while Ce Ce paid $2.40 to show.