DEL MAR, CA – Paul and Karen Eggert’s homebred Ollie’s Candy could not have transitioned to the dirt surface any better than when she ran sweet as sugar in the stretch to win Sunday’s $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar.
The Clement Hirsch is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Ollie’s Candy receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Distaff at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking from post 4 under Kent Desormeaux at 4/1 odds, Ollie’s Candy found herself forwardly-placed and was able to outleg the inside-running 6/5 favorite Secret Spice to lead into the clubhouse turn. Queen Bee to You kept close watch along her outside as she posted opening fractions of :23.05 and :46.68, with the rest of the field several lengths behind.
Heading into the far turn, Queen Bee to You began to give way, allowing Ollie’s Candy to remain relaxed as she rounded the corner. Behind her, Secret Spice and Paradise Woods were gaining rapidly, though by the top of the stretch, only Secret Spice posed a threat to the leader.
The bettors’ choice soon locked horns with Ollie’s Candy, and at one point, Secret Spice took a slim lead, but Ollie’s Candy refused to yield and fought back. The pair fought step by step the length of the stretch, but at the wire, it was Ollie’s Candy by a head. The John Sadler trainee completed the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track in a final time of 1:44.66.
“I was just letting her do her thing; reins were dangling,” said Desormeaux, who had never won the Clement Hirsch before today. “At the 1/4 pole, I picked her up and she did the rest. She came again (in the lane). That other mare got in front of us, but my mare is a fighter. She wants to win.”
La Force, last year’s runner-up, was unable to turn the tables this year, closing late to take third over a spent Paradise Woods, though she was 5 1/4 lengths behind the top two. A non-threatening Spring in the Wind and an eased Queen Bee to You completed the order of finish. Just a Smidge was scratched.
Ollie’s Candy’s victory was her first of 2019 and her second in a graded stakes event, following success in last summer’s Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita Park. The 4-year-old daughter of Candy Ride, most recently second in the Wilshire Stakes (G3), improved her career mark to 8-4-3-0 with $452,151 earned.
“She is a really nice filly who ran in some big races here last year for (former trainer) Bill Morey, Jr.,” said Sadler, who has now won five of the meet’s now 13 stakes races, including with Cistron in Saturday’s Bing Crosby Stakes (G1). “She came my way in really good shape and I’ve just kind of carried on for what he did last year. She ran a good race her last start at Santa Anita, came down here and had a bullet work over the track, which showed me she had an affinity for the dirt. A lot of Candy Rides can run on any surface. You don’t give Kent any instructions. You just don’t. So I was surprised to see her in front, but it worked out.”
Ollie’s Candy returned $10 to win, $4 to place, and $3.60 to show. Secret Spice brought back $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show, while La Force paid $3 to show.