Favored Include Me Out, benefiting from a rail-skimming ride under Joe Talamo, was all out to deny Star Billing in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I) by a neck Aug. 4 at Del Mar for her second grade I win of the season (VIDEO).
Trainer Ron Ellis picked up his first victory in the Clement Hirsch, a "Win & You're In" event, with the 8-5 favorite. Include Me Out, owned by Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stable, qualified for the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park, meaning the 4-year-old filly's entry fees and traveling costs will be paid for by the Breeders' Cup.
Include Me Out won the Santa Margarita Stakes (gr. I) on a sloppy track at Santa Anita in March as well as the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) over a fast track there two months before that.
“I’ve been thinking about (the Breeders' Cup) since she won at Santa Anita," Ellis said. "We’re really excited she’s in good form right how and she’ll have a couple months before she has to run again at Santa Anita."
The winner rebounded from a runner-up finish in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) as the 3-5 choice June 16 on the Cushion Track at Betfair Hollywood Park.
“I thought the race went perfect," Ellis said. "Then she drew out by a couple lengths and you know she pulls herself up when she gets on the lead. I guess Joe likes to work hard trying to carry her home.
“I think she tolerates the synthetic tracks, but she’s a much better filly on dirt," Ellis added. "She doesn’t seem to want to pull herself up as much. She just kind of does what she has to, and then when she gets to that lead, she thinks it’s over with."
Grade I winner Star Billing, making her first start on a synthetic track after spending her entire career on turf, ran a big race at 9-1 to get second. The Chilean-bred champion Amani, making her United States debut, rallied from last to finish third. Switch, the pacesetter in the field of eight older fillies and mares, gave way in the homestretch and was fourth.
Final time for the 1 1/16-mile test was a strong 1:41.96. It was slightly off the Polytrack mark of 1:41.48 set by Zenyatta in winning the Clement Hirsch for the first of three consecutive times in 2008.
Brereton C. Jones bred Include Me Out in Kentucky. The dark bay or brown daughter of Include out of the unraced Mazel Trick mare Don't Trick Her, was purchased for $150,000 at Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky July sale as a yearling in 2009.
Breaking from the rail post Include Me Out raced along the inside while stalking mid-pack as Switch took the early lead from Great Hot and Kayce Ace. Switch, coming off a victory in the seven-furlong A Gleam Handicap (gr. II), was keen at the longer distance under Martin Garcia and set lively fractions on the Polytrack. She covered the opening quarter-mile in :23.19, the half in :46.65, and six furlongs in 1:10.63.
Switch was well in command rounding the final bend when Include Me Out launched her bid along the inside for Talamo. She squeezed through along the inside to get past Great Hot at the quarter pole and took off after Switch, who was getting leg weary as she approached mid-stretch.
Include Me Out took control after angling out for the drive but began to tire as well as Star Billing, rallying on the outside for Rafael Bejarano, made up ground. The wire came just in time for Include Me Out, who drifted out from the whip under left-handed urging from Talamo to hold on in a terrific finish.
Talamo said he could feel Include Me Out letting up after she forged a clear advantage.
"But just a bit," he added. "When (Star Billing) came to her, she fought on. I almost had too good a trip today. I didn’t want to go to the front that soon, but every hole opened up for her. I had no choice but to go."
Winner of the Marjorie Marjorie L. Everett Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood prior to the Vanity, Include Me Out has emerged as the leader in the Southern California distaff ranks with four wins and a second in five starts in 2012.
She has now won six of 11 races in her career with three seconds, for earnings of $683,600.
The top three finishers each carried top weight of 123 pounds.
Include Me Out paid $5.20, $3.20, and $2.60, and topped a $35 exacta. Star Billing, making just her second start of the year for trainer John Shirreffs, returned $6.20 and $3.60. The exacta was worth $35. It was was 1 1/2 lengths back to Amani, who counts four grade I wins among her 10 victories in 11 tries in Chile. Now trained by Neil Drysdale, she paid $3.40 to show after her first start in 7 1/2 months.
“Been a while for her and, that considered, she ran good today," jockey Garrett Gomez said of Amani. "She was coming. And she’s been running farther. This was probably a little short for her. She handled the track OK and came running. Give me another 50 yards and you might have seen a different finish. She’s going to be fun.”
Switch, edged by three-quarters of a length for the show spot, was followed by Quaintly, Zafeen's Pearl, Kayce Ace, and Great Hot.