08/02/2010 2:03PM

At least six lined up for Clement Hirsch

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Benoit Photo
Made for Magic (left) outruns Wynning Ride to win the Milady Handicap.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Zenyatta is likely to have six rivals in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on Saturday, if the undefeated two-time champion starts in the Grade 1 race.

While trainer John Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss have yet to commit Zenyatta to the Grade 1 Hirsch, Shirreffs has mapped out a schedule for Zenyatta to be ready for the race.

The 6-year-old mare is scheduled to be vanned to Del Mar on Wednesday after training at Hollywood Park, and train at Del Mar on Thursday and Friday. She would be schooled in the paddock on Thursday and Friday to further her preparation. Despite having worked out those plans, Shirreffs did not commit Zenyatta to the race on Sunday.

“It’s not for sure,” he said.

There are other indications she will start. She worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 at Hollywood Park on Friday, the timing of which was designed to have her ready for the Hirsch, which she won in 2008 and 2009.

There are at least six other horses being considered for the race – Dance to My Tune, Made for Magic, Princess Taylor, Rinterval, Spring Style, and Wynning Ride.

Made for Magic (Grade 2 Milady Handicap), Rinterval (Wintergreen Stakes at Turfway Park) and Wynning Ride (Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows) are the only 2010 stakes winners on the list of probable starters other than Zenyatta, who has won three Grade 1 races this year.

Rinterval, second by a head to Informed Decision in the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap at Arlington Park on July 4, is the only shipper. She arrived at Del Mar on Monday morning. Owned by Jerry Jamgotchian and trained by Eric Reed, Rinterval will be making her Grade 1 debut in the Hirsch in her 23rd start.

“Rinteveral will do the best she can do,” Reed said on Monday. “She loves synthetics and she’s getting better with every start.”

Made for Magic’s trainer, A.C. Avila, said the Grade 1 status of the Hirsch and the $60,000 second-place purse makes the race attractive. He does not expect Made for Magic to be the first horse to upset Zenyatta, who has won 17 races.

“What are we going to do?” he said on Sunday morning. “We have to run for the second purse.

Dakota Phone eyes Pacific Classic

Now that Dakota Phone’s 16-race losing streak is a memory, following a victory in Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego Handicap, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is aiming high again for the gelding, planning a start in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 28. Chances are the race will draw a crowded field.

The Pacific Classic is not likely to have a strong favorite. Awesome Gem, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup last month, will be well backed, but division leader Rail Trip, who won two stakes at Hollywood Park earlier this year, is no longer in California, having been sent to Rick Dutrow in the East by owners Mace and Samantha Siegel.

Aside from Awesome Gem and Dakota Phone, the Pacific Classic may includes the first three finishers of the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap last Friday, Temple City, Unusual Suspect, and Richard’s Kid; The Usual Q.T., winner of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on turf on July 24; Enriched, who was third to Dakota Phone; and possibly the eastern shippers Hold Me Back and Gio Ponti.

The Grade 2 San Diego Handicap was 5-year-old Dakota Phone’s second stakes win, and first since the Forty Niner Handicap in November 2008.

“We’ve had this horse a long time and made money, but he’s done it the hard way,” Hollendorfer said. “It’s nice to win a race like this.”

The Pacific Classic would be Dakota Phone’s first start in a Grade 1 since a third in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March. The Pacific Classic is unlikely to attract Battle of Hastings, who was beaten a half-length in the San Diego. “I think it will be too quick back,” trainer Jeff Mullins said.

Early business off

Attendance and handle figures for the first nine days of the 37-day meeting have shown declines compared with the 2009 meeting, according to Del Mar’s chief financial officer, Mike Ernst.

Through Saturday, ontrack attendance is down less than 1 percent, which Ernst attributed to lower attendance on the first two Fridays of the meeting – July 23 and 30. He said the track has positioned its post-racing rock concerts on Fridays in a smaller area than past years to aid in crowd control, and that those were the only days to show a decline in attendance compared to 2009. “We’ve been up in attendance in seven of the nine days,” he said.

The opening-day program on July 21 drew an all-time record ontrack crowd of 45,309.

Handle figures are down 10 percent on-track and through all sources, including satellite wagering in California and nationwide, and account wagering providers. “We’re off about 10.5 percent and about 6.5 percent is because of fewer races,” Ernst said. “We elected to eliminate a race on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays just to make sure we have fuller fields.”

Ernst said that on-track handle is also down approximately 10 percent.

Before the meeting, Del Mar announced it would run eight-race programs on Wednesdays and Fridays, compared with the nine-race programs run in 2009. When the meeting began, the track began carding nine-race programs on Sundays instead of the 10 that were discussed earlier this year. The barn area is not at capacity, with several Southern California Thoroughbred stables electing to stay at Hollywood Park for the summer.

Despite the drop in handle, Del Mar has still underpaid purses slightly, Ernst said.

“We’ve sat down a few times and looked at our [purse] projections, and we’re in good shape,” he said.

Ernst said it was unlikely that additional races would be added in coming weeks. “The last thing we want to do is have a seven-race card or worse,” he said. “Maybe at the end of the meet, we have a 10-race card.”

Through Saturday, Del Mar was averaging 8.05 runners per races, compared with 8.61 runners per races during the corresponding period in 2009.