Eight are entered to face Zenyatta, who has won six consecutive races to begin her career and will lug top weight of 124 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile Hirsch. Tough Tiz's Sis has turned in some terrific performances on synthetic racing surfaces, including a grade I triumph during the Oak Tree stand at Santa Anita last fall in the Lady's Secret, and appears to have the best chance of knocking over Zenyatta.
Zenyatta and Tough Tiz's Sis, a 4-year-old daughter of Tiznow , have yet to race on Del Mar's tricky surface.
After getting out of a tight spot at the eighth pole in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park July 5, Tough Tiz's Sis was getting to Zenyatta with each stride, but fell a half-length short at the wire. That was easily the closest anyone has been to Zenyatta at the finish in her six starts. The 4-year-old Street Cry filly uncharacteristically failed to completely close down her rivals after getting the lead in the stretch that day.
Tough Tiz's Sis also finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Zenyatta in the El Encino (gr. II) at Santa Anita in January. She has seven victories in 18 lifetime starts and earnings of $687,792 for the owner partnership of Watson and Weitman Performances.
Zenyatta carried 124 in the Vanity, the same impost she'll have for the Hirsch, in which she will be piloted once again by Mike Smith. Tough Tiz's Sis, with Aaron Gryder aboard, gets two pounds fewer than in the Vanity and will carry 119.
Trained by John Shirreffs, Zenyatta spots the rest of the field from nine to 12 pounds as she goes in quest of her fifth successive graded stakes win. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss, the strapping Kentucky-bred dark bay has earned $734,580 since debuting last Nov. 22.
Silver Swallow was also making up much ground on Zenyatta in the homestretch of the Vanity before winding up third, beaten by 1 3/4 lengths in her first start since May 21. Bruce Headley trains the 4-year-old daughter of Alphabet Soup, who will be ridden by David Flores. The gray is looking for her first stakes win and was assigned a feathery 113 for the Hirsch.
West Coast Swing, a WinStar Farm's homebred by Gone West, has won four of her five starts. The 4-year-old is coming off an impressive 6 1/4-length triumph over an optional claiming field at Churchill Downs June 21, her first start in eight months for trainer Shannon Ritter.
Silver Z, a runaway pacesetter in the Vanity who faded to fourth, should be able to show the way once more under Joe Talamo.
The field also includes grade I winner Romance Is Diane, winless in 2008 but coming off a third-pace finish in Hollywood's A Gleam Handicap (gr. II) June 28, and grade II victor Dawn After Dawn, who was bumped in the stretch while pressing the pace in the A Gleam and finished eighth.
Model, trained by Neil Drysdale, came from off the pace to beat allowance/optional claimers at one mile over the Del Mar surface by nearly two lengths on July 21. Placid Lake has not been seen since winning a stakes at Santa Anita Feb. 24.
$300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 6 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Placid Lake (FL), 113, Alonso Quinonez
2. Model (KY), 112, Michael C. Baze
3. Romance Is Diane (CA), 115, Rafael Bejarano
4. West Coast Swing (KY), 113, Tyler Baze
5. Silver Z (CA), 112, Joseph Talamo
6. Tough Tiz's Sis (KY), 119, Aaron T. Gryder
7. Silver Swallow (FL), 113, David R. Flores
8. Zenyatta (KY), 124, Mike E. Smith
9. Dawn After Dawn (FL), 114, Victor Espinoza