Although what used to be the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Santa Anita Park is now called the Zenyatta Stakes, the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar can easily pass as the Zenyatta Stakes II. As she did in the Lady’s Secret, the brilliant Hall of Fame mare was victorious on three occasions in the Hirsch.
There may not be a Hall of Famer in this year’s field, but the Grade 1 race brings together an interesting field of seven fillies and mares for what should be a lively battle in the Hirsch. The race carries added significance this year since the Breeders’ Cup will be contested at Del Mar Nov. 5-6 and the Hirsch is a Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race for the Longines Distaff.
1. Warren’s Showtime (8-1 morning-line odds): She definitely is better on turf than dirt but she appears well-placed in this spot. All of the main contenders have sharp early speed, and she has the kind of late kick that can capitalize on that. She will have to take a big step forward here to figure in the exacta, but the pace just might enable her to do that.
JOCKEY: Juan J. Hernandez; TRAINER: Craig Lewis
2. Clockstrikestwelve (30-1): She lost by a combined 32 lengths in her last two tries in a graded stakes company, which says all you need to know about her chances here. Even with some late speed, she is outclassed at this level.
JOCKEY: Kyle Frey; TRAINER: Jonathan Wong
3. As Time Goes By (8-5): The first of the speedy contenders. She has not raced since May, when she won the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes for back-to-back stakes wins for trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert’s horses usually run well after a layoff, even in graded stakes, and with “Big Money” Mike Smith riding, she should be a major player in this field
JOCKEY: Mike Smith; TRAINER: Bob Baffert
4. Paige Anne (15-1): She returned from an eight-month layoff and finished third in an allowance race on an all-weather surface at Golden Gate Fields. She was competitive last year in Grade 3 stakes but will most likely be hard-pressed to hit the board here at the Grade 1 level. On the plus side, she does have leading jockey Flavien Prat and the odds on her should be better than the typical price on a horse ridden by him.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat; TRAINER: Simon Callaghan
5. Cover Version (30-1): In her last dirt race, she won a starter race at Los Alamitos. Her speed figures are mediocre and, given that she’s only won claiming and starter races, she lacks the kind of class it will take to be a threat here.
JOCKEY: Abel Cedillo; TRAINER: Reed Saldana
6. Venetian Harbor (2-1): She also has a ton of early speed, though she lacks extensive racing experience around two turns. She has only raced once since November, and asking her to win a Grade 1 two-turn stakes off a limited body of recent work under these circumstances seems like a tall task.
JOCKEY: Mario Gutierrez; TRAINER: Richard Baltas
7. Shedaresthedevil (7-5): You can add her name to the early pace duel. Shipped west by trainer Brad Cox, she arrives after tangling with the East Coast’s best distaff runners, including division leader Letruska. Winner of the Longines Kentucky Oaks last year, she has a wealth of experience in races like this and, from the outside post, she should be able to sit just off the early pace and stalk the leaders. She was third in a 2-year-old stakes on this track, but should be able to make amends for that setback here.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
THE PICK: Shedaresthedevil
LIVE LONGSHOT: Warren’s Showtime