Undefeated in four races in 2010, Bourbon Bay makes his first start in 5 1/2 months for trainer Neil Drysdale in Oak Tree's $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship (gr. IT) Oct. 3 at Hollywood Park.
David and Jill Heerensperger's 4-year-old son of Sligo Bay has not raced since his half-length triumph over the late-closing Unusual Suspect in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIT) to end the Santa Anita season April 18. The bay gelding will be making his first start in a grade I race in this 1 1/4-mile event, which is the eighth race on the Oak Tree program with a 4:30 p.m. (PDT) post.
The Turf Championship is the last of six grade I races being run at Hollywood Park this weekend.
In his rise to prominence this season, Bourbon Bay also won the San Luis Obispo (gr. IIT) and San Luis Rey (gr. IIT) in convincing style during a strong Santa Anita meet. He became the first since Kotashaan in 1993 to sweep the track's three major turf marathon events. Bourbon Bay, working solidly for his return, will be ridden once again by Rafael Bejarano. They drew post 6 in the eight-horse field in which all entrants carry 124 pounds.
Bourbon Bay lost all four of his starts in 2009 and comes into the Turf Championship with a career mark of 5-2-2 in 13 races and earnings of $389,424.
Drysdale also entered Marlang, a Canadian Classic winner in 2008 that showed his fondness for the Hollywood Park lawn when he led gate-to-wire in the Sunset Handicap (gr. IIIT) July 18. The free-running Marlang set the pace and faded in his last race, Saratoga's Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. IT) Aug. 14. Gustav Schickedanz owns the 5-year-old Ontario-bred son of Langfuhr .
Trainer Richard Mandella entered a pair as well, including the formidable Champ Pegasus, a 4-year-old Fusaichi Pegasus colt. Second to Marlang in the Sunset in his stakes debut, Diamond A Racing and Arturo Vargas' homebred returned to record a game 1 1/4-length triumph as the favorite in the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) at 11 furlongs Aug. 29.
Champ Pegasus, ridden by Joel Rosario, drew the rail.
Mandella is also represented by Worth Repeating, who ran third after leading in the stretch at 15-1 odds in the Del Mar Handicap, his stakes debut.
Others coming out of the Del Mar Handicap are a pair of Irish-bred 5-year-olds, runner-up Buenos Dias, trained by Ron McAnally for Charles Cella, and Michael Tabor's fourth-place Falcon Rock. The latter was in the thick of contention for trainer Simon Callaghan when jockey Alonso Quinonez lost his whip at the sixteenth pole.
Corey Nakatani takes over on Falcon Rock while Brice Blanc retains the mount on Buenos Dias.
Unusual Suspect, a veteran of 52 races with earnings of $855,171, returns to the turf for the first time since finishing third in the Sunset. Where's the Remote, coming off back-to-back wins on the Del Mar turf, makes his stakes debut for trainer Mike Mitchell.
$250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship (gr. IT, Race 8, 4:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Champ Pegasus (KY), J Rosario, R E Mandella
2. Worth Repeating (KY), J Talamo, R E Mandella
3. Where's the Remote (CA), M E Smith, M R Mitchell
4. Unusual Suspect (CA), P A Valenzuela, B Abrams
5. Marlang (ON), M Garcia, N D Drysdale
6. Bourbon Bay (KY), R Bejarano, N D Drysdale
7. Falcon Rock (IRE), C S Nakatani, S Callaghan
8. Buenos Dias (IRE), B Blanc, R L McAnally
All carry 124 pounds.