Three years after Argentine import Blue Prize reached top form and upset the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), her half-sister Blue Stripe could be on a similar trajectory. The Marcelo Polanco mare continued her stateside progress by dethroning the odds-on Shedaresthedevil in Saturday’s $400,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar, a “Win and You’re In” for the Nov. 5 renewal of the Distaff.
Pozo de Luna’s Blue Stripe had earned a ticket to the 2021 Distaff in a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event in her homeland, the Gran Premio Criadores (G1) at Palermo. Making her U.S. debut in last year’s Distaff off a six-month layoff, as a South American changing hemispheres, was a tall order. In the circumstances, she couldn’t do herself justice when seventh behind Japan’s shocker Marche Lorraine at Del Mar last November.
A fully acclimated Blue Stripe, however, is a different proposition. The winner of the 1 1/8-mile Santa Margarita (G2) in her return to action Apr. 30, she was a closing second on the slight cutback in the June 18 Santa Maria (G2). The Clement L. Hirsch was likewise a 1 1/16-mile affair, but Blue Stripe was sharper.
Private Mission scampered to the front, tracked by Shedaresthedevil, the 4-5 favorite and defending champion, through fractions of :23.18 and :46.82. Shedaresthedevil rapidly put away Private Mission on the far turn, reaching six furlongs in 1:11.42.
But Blue Stripe was arguably traveling even better, poised in third, for new rider Hector Berrios. Not only did she cover Shedaresthedevil’s move, but Blue Stripe tackled her turning for home. The 5.30-1 chance forged ahead under good handling. Crossing the wire a handy 1 3/4-length winner, she clocked 1:42.97 and paid $12.60.
Desert Dawn, the lone three-year-old in the field, kept on determinedly to take second by a head. Shedaresthedevil was relegated to third, while the two remaining runners, Soothsay and Private Mission, were wrapped up on and cantered home in their own time. Samurai Charm, who figured to be part of the pace scenario, and Lisette were withdrawn.
“The race went exactly as we planned it,” Berrios said. “We wanted to sit behind the speed horses, then go get them late. She was running all the way. She was running well. Went we went past the half-mile (pole), we picked it up. She ran really well. She can run farther, too. I think she wants to run farther.”
Polanco revealed that they tweaked the pre-race strategy in light of the scratches.
“We talked about where she’s going to be because they scratched two horses, and we had to change a little bit,” the horseman said. “We had her a little closer than we had before. Lucky everything worked.
“You know where we’re going – Keeneland,” he added, alluding to this year’s Breeders’ Cup host site.
Blue Stripe has now bankrolled $461,882 from her 10-6-1-2 line. Aside from the aforementioned Criadores, her Argentine resume features a victory in last year’s Arturo R. y Arturo Bullrich (G2) on dirt and a pair of top-level placings on turf, in the 2020 Enrique Acebal (G1) and Copa de Plata (G1).
Bred by La Manija, Blue Stripe is by Equal Stripes, and her famous half-sister Blue Prize is by Pure Prize. Their dam is multiple Group 2 victress Blues for Sale, by Not for Sale, from the extended family of noted sire Southern Halo.