Last week, Gary and Mary Wests' homebred Maximum Security made his first start for trainer Bob Baffert and carried the silks of partners Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith to the Del Mar winner's circle after Abel Cedillo guided him to victory in the San Diego Handicap. On Aug. 2, Baffert, the Wests, and Cedillo notched another Grade 1 win at the Del Mar meet, this time with the filly Fighting Mad, who wired the $250,500 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. Fighting Mad earned an automatic berth in the Nov. 7 Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff at Keeneland with the Breeders' Cup Challenge series victory.
Maximum Security and Fighting Mad are by New Year's Day, who won the 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile for the Wests and now stands at stud in Japan. The pair of 4-year-olds represent the first two Grade 1 winners for their sire.
Fighting Mad first broke through the stakes level a year ago in the Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar. She returned May 17 from a nine-month layoff to finish fourth in the Desert Stormer Stakes at Santa Anita Park, then made a swift rebound to win the May 31 Santa Maria Stakes over Grade 1 winners Hard Not to Love and Ce Ce.
Both of those rivals were back in the 1 1/16-mile Clement L. Hirsch, in which Fighting Mad went off as the 9-5 favorite. The Wests' Kentucky homebred broke quickly from the outside post 6 to take charge early. She set fractions of :23.15, :46.55, and 1:10.57 through the first six furlongs.
"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 after winning the Clement L. Hirsch for the first time. "To look at her, you wouldn't think she could go (a 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."
Defending Clement Hirsch winner Ollie's Candy, looking for her first win in a year, tracked in second, 1 ½ lengths behind the pacesetter. Ce Ce was bumped out of the gate as Hard Not to Love shifted in. The former was fourth early while the latter followed in last.
Ollie's Candy continued to chase Fighting Mad down the homestretch, and Ce Ce made a four-wide bid into the lane, but neither rival could shake the frontrunner. Fighting Mad held strong to keep Ollie's Candy a half-length away from a repeat win. The final time on the fast track was 1:43.46.
"I had the same instructions today that I had yesterday," said Cedillo, who guided Baffert-trained Thousand Words to victory in the Aug. 1 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."
Ce Ce finished third, followed by Hang a Star and Dogtag. Hard Not to Love was last throughout.
With five wins and a second from eight starts, Fighting Mad has earned $444,008.