In a weekend of impressive stretch duels, Paul and Karen Eggert's filly Ollie's Candy turned in her own memorable performance July 28 and defeated Grade 1 winner Secret Spice by a head in the $300,351, Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar.
Ollie's Candy earned an automatic berth in the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park by winning the Clement Hirsch via the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" Challenge Series.
Guided by Kent Desormeaux, Ollie's Candy broke well from the third post position and made an early move for the lead. Running just off the rail, the filly was sent to the front, where she dueled early with Queen Bee to You.
Away well, Secret Spice and Flavien Prat settled well back in third, more than four lengths behind the leaders. Ollie's Candy put away Queen Bee to You and widened her margin to three lengths as Secret Spice began her three-wide advance headed into the second turn.
As the field turned for home, Secret Spice hammered down the stretch to draw on even terms with Ollie's Candy and poked a head in front. With only the final yards to run, Ollie's Candy dug in with all she had and got up on the bob to prevail over Secret Spice at the finish. The final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:44.66 on a fast track.
"I was just letting her do her thing; reins were dangling," said Desormeaux. "At the quarter 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. (Trainer) John (Sadler) is on a roll. He just let me come along today."
“She ran a huge race," said Prat of the runner-up. "She just got beat today.”
Santa Maria Stakes winner La Force, who saved ground at the back of the field before chasing down rivals in deep stretch, got up to take third. Paradise Woods, Spring in the Wind, and Queen Bee to You completed the order of finish.
It was the fifth Clement Hirsch victory for Sadler, who won in 2006 with Healthy Addiction, again in 2014 with Iotapa, and in back-to-back renewals with champion Stellar Wind in 2016-17.
"(Ollie's Candy) is a really nice filly who ran in some big races here last year for (trainer) Bill Morey Jr. She came my way (two starts ago) in really good shape, and I've just kind of carried on what he did last year," said Sadler.
Ollie's Candy, a daughter of Candy Ride, broke her maiden on debut at age three for Morey and earned her first graded win two starts later in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks at Santa Anita. Switched to turf for her two final starts of 2018, she finished second by a neck twice, in the Grade 2 San Clemente Stakes and the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club.
Ollie's Candy finished off the board in her first start of 2019 – the May 27 Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita. She bounced back one start later to finish second in the June 22 Grade 3 Wilshire Stakes before the decision was made to try the filly back on the dirt.
"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,” Sadler said. “A lot of Candy Rides can run on any surface. You don't give Kent (Desormeaux) any instructions. You just don't. So I was surprised to see her in front, but it worked out."
Ollie's Candy has four wins and three second-place finishes in eight starts for earnings of $452,151.