Grade II Winners Clash in Clement Hirsch
by Jack Shinar
Date Posted: 9/24/2008 6:18:23 PM
Last Updated: 9/27/2008 2:10:35 PM
Fourstardave Handicap winner Red Giant is one of three multiple grade II winners in the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship.
Multiple grade II winners Out of Control, Red Giant, and Spring House head a field of seven entered for the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT) at Oak Tree's Santa Anita meet Sept. 27.
The Clement Hirsch, at 1 1/4 miles on the turf, is the first of six grade I races on the Oak Tree program, but the only one that is not part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series. However, it will carry strong implications for the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), which will be run over the same surface at 12 furlongs Oct. 25.
In his only start of 2008, Peachtree Stable's Red Giant won the 1 1/16-mile Fourstardave Handicap (gr.IIT) on a yielding Saratoga turf course by a neck Aug. 3, prompting trainer Todd Pletcher to ship west. The consistent 4-year-old son of Giant's Causeway , who had been off for 10 months, will have the services of Pletcher's first-call jockey, John Velazquez.
Red Giant, with a 5-3-1 lifetime record in 11 starts and earnings of $942,410, won the Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) in a 37-1 upset as a 3-year-old at the Hirsch's 10-furlong distance. Pletcher said he wants to see how the chestnut colt handles the Santa Anita grass.
"We felt like such a strong race off quite a layoff in the Fourstardave that we didn't (want to) rush him back," Pletcher said. "We're just looking at the options; we felt like the mile and the quarter distance in the Clement Hirsch and the course at Santa Anita would be helpful so that's how we landed there."
Spring House could go favored following his powerful 1 1/2-length victory as a 7-10 choice in the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) in his last start Aug. 23. However, the late-running 6-year-old Chester House gelding, trained by Julio Canani for R.D. Hubbard, must cut back in distance from the 11-furlong race at Del Mar. Spring House won the 1 1/2-mile San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT) in February during the regular Santa Anita season.
Corey Nakatani, who rode Spring House in the Del Mar Handicap, has the mount once again.
T N T Stud's Out of Control gets back on the turf after being distanced in Saratoga's Woodward (gr. I) on the dirt in his last start Aug.30. Winless for trainer Bobby Frankel since capturing the Oak Tree Mile (gr. IIT) nearly one year ago, the Brazilian-bred 5-year-old missed by a nose as the favorite in the 10-furlong Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont Park June 7. He also ran second in the Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs this spring.
Jockey Garret Gomez is reuinited with Out of Control here.
The Irish-bred Ferneley, a group III winner in Ireland, makes his second U.S. start for trainer Ben Cecil. The Plantation Stud 4-year-old colt ran fifth in the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) July 20.
"He had quite a long trip coming from Ireland before that first race, so I thought he ran well considering," Cecil said. "Hopefully, if he can improve a little bit, he'll have a bit of a shot. He ran off the plane (at Del Mar). He arrived and ran five days later so I gave him a bit of time after that."
Transduction Gold and You Got Me Rocking, second and third, respectively, to Spring House in the Del Mar Handicap, and the New Zealand-bred outsider Bonjour complete the field.
You Got Me Rocking should get the lead and could be difficult to catch, warns trainer Mike Mitchell.
“We’re going to let him go, and if anyone wants to challenge him, he’ll be ready,” Mitchell said of the 4-year-old gray son of Aljabr.
$250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Stakes (gr. IT, Race 4, 2 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Ferneley (IRE), Victor Espinoza
2. Transduction Gold (KY), Jon K. Court
3. Bonjour (NZ), Martin Garcia
4. You Got Me Rocking (KY), Joel Rosario
5. Out of Control (BRZ), Garrett K. Gomez
6. Red Giant (KY), John R. Velazquez
7. Spring House (KY), Corey S. Nakatani
Each assigned 124 pounds.
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