February 22, 2024

Adare Manor works to earn Breeders’ Cup ticket in WAYI Clement Hirsch

Adare Manor holds Desert Dawn safe to win the Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar (Photo © Benoit Photo)

After romping in a pair of Grade 2s by a combined margin of nine lengths, Michael Lund Petersen’s Adare Manor was backed into 3-5 favoritism in Saturday’s $400,000 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar. The Bob Baffert trainee had to work a lot harder than in her Santa Anita cakewalks, but ultimately got the job done in this “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

In addition to the change of venue, Adare Manor had to adjust to pace-chasing role. The daughter of Uncle Mo is most imperious when able to get into her long-striding rhythm on the lead, a scenario that propelled her in the April 29 Santa Maria (G2) and June 10 Santa Margarita (G2).

At Del Mar, the speedy Elm Drive changed the equation from the start. Dashing straight to the front through fractions of :23.31 and :46.68, she forced the favorite to go a bit faster than ideal. Adare Manor was hustled by Juan Hernandez to keep tabs by the six-furlong mark in 1:11.30, and her fans may have had a few anxious thoughts.

Stamina, the question mark for Elm Drive, was precisely the asset that would come into play for Adare Manor in the stretch – eventually. Elm Drive was still a length up at the eighth pole, when Adare Manor finally began to wear her down.

Yet another danger was looming, in the form of late-running Desert Dawn, a stablemate of Elm Drive’s from the Phil D’Amato barn. Unhurried in last early, Desert Dawn was making eye-catching headway, and conjuring up flashbacks of her upsetting Adare Manor in last year’s Santa Anita Oaks (G2).

This time, however, Adare Manor found enough to keep Desert Dawn at bay by a length in 1:43.33 for 1 1/16 miles.

“She (won) the last three races, and today was four,” Hernandez recapped. “She’s been improving a lot. I just have to help her out of the gate because she was a little slow out of the gate today, but by the first turn she found a nice rhythm. I let her be quiet a little bit and save her energy. At the quarter pole I asked her to pick it up, and she exploded again to the wire.

“She is a big filly; sometimes it takes a couple jumps to keep her momentum. She is the best. She (Elm Drive) was faster than me, and so I sit quiet saving my horse till the last stretch. She (stays on) pretty well; she is really kind.” 

“I was hoping to be on an easy lead,” Baffert said. “I knew the one (Elm Drive) is a really fast filly; you want to stay close to her. Sort of took our filly out of her game a little bit. He had to keep riding her the whole way but, at the end, she’s a big, long-jumping filly, and she just got going there at the end. We’re happy with the win; we got a Grade 1.”

Desert Dawn settled for Hirsch runner-up honors for the second straight year. Elm Drive checked in another 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Next came Kirstenbosch and Baffert’s other runner, the 5-2 second choice Fun to Dream, who tracked the pace but faded.

Adare Manor’s resume reads 12-6-4-0, $861,600, including a 13-length rout of the Las Virgenes (G3) prior to her seconds in the Santa Anita Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan (G2). The big dark bay has upped her game this season as a four-year-old. She’ll be happy that her favorite track, Santa Anita, hosts the Breeders’ Cup.

Bred by Town & Country Horse Farms and Gary Broad in Kentucky, Adare Manor was a $180,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February yearling who RNA’d for $190,000 at the same venue later in 2020. She commanded $375,000 as an OBS Summer juvenile.

Adare Manor was produced by $724,597-earner Brooklynsway, a Giant Gizmo mare who won or placed in 12 stakes. Among her six stakes scores are the 2014 Princess Elizabeth S., 2015 Bison City S., and 2016 Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland, where she stunned I’m a Chatterbox.