08/02/2012 2:46PM

Del Mar: Switch going a route again in Clement Hirsch

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Barbara D. Livingston
Switch will stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the Hirsch.

DEL MAR, Calif. – For a multiple stakes-winning millionaire, Switch has a recent void in her career. She has not won a graded stakes at a mile or farther since the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks in June 2010.

It certainly has not been for a lack of trying. She was second in three consecutive Grade 1 route races in California and Arkansas in the spring of 2011, and second to Zenyatta in the 2010 Lady’s Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park.

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With that in the past, trainer John Sadler is notably guarded about her chances in Saturday’s $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar. The Grade 1 Hirsch is run over 1 1/16 miles and is the championship race for the older filly and mare division at the meeting. Switch was third in the 2011 Hirsch as a heavy favorite. The Hirsch is a Win and You're In Race for the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, meaning the winner will receive a guaranteed spot in the field with her entry fees paid and $10,000 in travel expenses.

The alternative to a start in the Hirsch is the $150,000 Rancho Bernardo Handicap, a Grade 3 over 6 1/2 furlongs here on Aug. 19. That doesn’t suit Sadler’s interests.

“I’d be especially concerned about her at 6 1/2,” Sadler said. “I feel that’s a little short for her.

“You only have two choices down here. One is long and one is short. The one that is long has nice money and prestige.”

Owned by Lee and Susan Searing, Switch is part of a strong field of eight in the Hirsch, one of five graded stakes winners.

The Hirsch will be Switch’s first start in a two-turn race since the 2011 Hirsch. Last November, she was second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs. In her last start, she won her fifth stakes in the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap over seven furlongs at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Race strategy should work in Switch’s favor on Saturday. She tends to race near the front in two-turn races, and could follow the longshot Kayce Ace.

The race lacks a confirmed frontrunner. What it does include are accomplished fillies in Amani and Include Me Out.

Amani won 10 of 11 starts in Chile, and will be making her U.S. debut in the Hirsch. Now trained by Neil Drysdale, Amani won stakes at distances ranging from six furlongs to 1 3/8 miles.

Amani, by the Giant’s Causeway stallion Morning Raider, won nine stakes in Chile, including four at the Group 1 level. Drysdale said last week that Amani trains like a filly who races from off the pace.

While Amani’s form is a puzzle to American bettors, they can easily assess Include Me Out, who has been the top filly around two turns this year in Southern California.

Trained by Ron Ellis, Include Me Out had a three-race stakes winning streak interrupted with a second in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap over 1 1/8 miles at Hollywood Park on June 16. Include Me Out had a three-length lead at the eighth pole of that race, but tired visibly in the final furlong and was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Love Theway Youare.

“I think the track was a little deep, and I don’t think that helped,” said jockey Joe Talamo, who rides Include Me Out. “I think she just got tired. I didn’t feel her pulling herself up. The other horse blew by me.”

Talamo was not thrilled by the rail draw or the presence of a newcomer such as Amani.

“We’ll see what kind of trip we’ll get,” he said. “It looks like there is a monster in there from Drysdale’s.