"I guess that's why we get a little choked up when we talk about him," Mitchell said of Leprechaun Kid, who was claimed for $80,000 on July 28 and won the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) by a nose over Hirsch rival Laura's Lucky Boy in his very next race. The victory ended a string of 62 consecutive losing rides by Tyler Baze, who also was the regular rider of Star Over The Bay.
"Leprechaun Kid has the same style and he looks a lot like Star," Mitchell said. "If we had taken the blinkers off him and changed the colors on him, he'd have looked exactly like Star."
The Hirsch presents a handicapping puzzle for bettors. Each of the eight entrants has races of merit, including the 9-year-old California-bred millionaire, Continental Red. Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, winner of the Hirsch four times including three years running from 1999-2001, will be represented by Exterior, who races for his principal client, multiple Eclipse Award-winning Juddmonte Farms. Trainer Neil Drysdale, who won the Hirsch in 2003 with Storming Home, sends out Fourty Niners Son, second in the Eddie Read Handicap and third in the Arlington Million, each a Grade I race, in his last two starts. Ron McAnally starts multiple grade I winner Sweet Return, who has won both the Eddie Read and the Charles Whittingham Memorial (gr. IT) this summer but faded to finish seventh in the Arlington Million.
$250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IT, Race 8, 4:08 p.m.), 3 & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Leprechaun Kid (KY), Tyler Baze
2. Whilly (IRE), Felipe Martinez
3. Fourty Niners Son (KY), Corey Nakatani
4. Runaway Dancer (KY), Garrett Gomez
5. Continental Red (CA), Victor Espinoza
6. Sweet Return (GB), Alex Solis
7. Laura's Lucky Boy (KY), Gary Stevens
8. Exterior (KY), Patrick Valenzuela
All carry 124 pounds.