The sensational four-year-old filly Zenyatta returns to action on Saturday in the 28th running of the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar. The daughter of Street Cry has turned in 6 consecutive victories to begin her career, including 4 straight against Grade 1 and Grade 2 competition. Eight challengers will attempt to end Zenyatta’s unbeaten streak, including main rivals Tough Tiz’s Sis and Romance is Diane.
The field for the Clement L. Hirsch with jockeys and odds is as follows:
- Place Lake (A. Quinonez) 30/1
- Model (M.C. Baze) 30/1
- Romance is Diane (R. Bejarano) 10/1
- West Coast Swing (T. Baze) 10/1
- SIlver Z (J. Talamo) 20/1
- Tough Tiz’s Sis (A. Gryder) 4/1
- SIlver Swallow (D. Flores) 10/1
- Zenyatta (M.E. Smith) 3/5*
- Dawn After Dawn (V. Espinoza) 15/1
Pace wise, I’m expecting Silver Z to be the front runner for much of the way through the 1 1/4 mile distance of the Clement L. Hirsch. Dawn after Dawn will likely have to gun it from the outside post position as well.
All this should set up nicely as expected for the big stars of the race, Zenyatta and Tough Tiz’s Sis. Don’t count out the versatile Romance is Diane though. Note that she was just beaten by Zenyatta and Tough Tiz’s Sis in the El Encino at Santa Anita back in January. Further, Romance is Diane is a noteworthy 4 for 7 lifetime going 1 1/4 miles.
Several other longer odds runners look very intriguing to use underneath. Silver Swallow did not disgrace herself against the mighty Zenyatta and Tough Tiz’s Sis last out in the Vanity Handicap. It’s probably too much to ask for her to run past Zenyatta in the stretch, but surely she’s a logical contender for the exotics.
West Coast Swing is another useful runner that appears to be extremely talented. She’s got 4 wins in 5 lifetime starts, with many of those wins being very impressive on paper. The only problem is that she’s never been this distance yet and two of her least inspiring races were on the synthetics – although she did romp to a 10 length score at Arlington Park so it’s not really too much to worry about.
The big question in my mind is going to be whether Tough Tiz’s Sis can hold off Zenyatta in the stretch. This one might be a battle for the ages. Zenyatta had to dig down deep to pull off the win last time, and there’s really no way of knowing for sure whether she’ll come back better or worse for that effort. It wouldn’t take much for the daughter of Tiznow to pull the upset.
I’m still going to use Zenyatta on top – I just think this may be her biggest test since facing Ginger Punch back in January. Tough Tiz’s SIs and Romance is Diane will be my underneath exacta plays. I’ll add in West Coast Swing and Silver Swallow to fill out the trifecta.