It's Quality Over Quantity in Hirsch Handicap

From Del Mar Turf Club
The quantity is low but the quality is high for Sunday's grade II, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Handicap for fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on Del Mar's main track.

The field brings together a 6-year-old California-bred daughter of one of the hottest stallions around, one of the premier grass runners in Southern California, a 4-year-old filly coming off two nice wins in Kentucky, and a mare who has raced as a late- running sprinter most of her career, but who will be trying two turns for the first time.

That translates, respectively, to Gary Tanaka's Gourmet Girl, Mr. and Mrs. Martin J. Wygod's Tranquility Lake, The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Saudi Poetry and Budget Stable's Nany's Sweep. All for the money, and four to go.

Gourmet Girl, on a two-race win streak for trainer Pico Perdomo, will carry high weight of 122 pounds, including meet-leading rider Alex Solis. The daughter of California stallion Cee's Tizzy has savored recent victories in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park and Hollywood Park's Vanity Handicap, both grade I events. Her lifetime earnings are $1.1 million.

Though she only had one win in four tries on the dirt early in her career, Tranquility Lake nonetheless has built quite a reputation for herself on the turf at Southern California tracks under the handling of trainer Julio Canani. After winning Hollywood Park's grade III Wilshire Handicap in her first 2001 start, she has been runner-up in two grade I events, the Gamely Breeders Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park and Del Mar's Ramona Handicap. Tranquility Lake, whose earnings stand at $1.2 million, has been assigned 120 pounds and will have regular rider Eddie Delahoussaye in the irons.

Saudi Poetry, trained by meet-leading Bob Baffert, is two-for-two at the seashore so she seems a natural for this spot, especially coming from two graded stakes wins at Churchill Downs - the grade II Louisville Breeders Cup Handicap and the grade III Fleur de Lis Handicap. She has five lifetime victories in 14 outings and is a half-millionaire in earnings. She'll carry 116 pounds, including Victor Espinoza.

Nany's Sweep has not won a stakes race beyond seven furlongs, but trainer Kathy Walsh believes that she will take to the Hirsch distance. Owner Sid Belzberg's 5-year-old daughter of End Sweep could get a quick pace and that would be to her advantage as a mare with sprinter speed. She carries the least weight in the field, 114 pounds, and will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.