08/05/2009 12:00AM

Life Is Sweet taking on champ again

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Benoit & Associates
Life Is Sweet starts '09 winning the El Encino. She has since been second to Zenyatta and third against males in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Life Is Sweet is training so well this week at Del Mar that owner Marty Wygod is willing to take on the undefeated Zenyatta for the second time this year in Sunday's $300,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes.

Life Is Sweet, the leading 4-year-old filly in California this year, was second to Zenyatta in the Grade 2 Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park in May. Life Is Sweet followed that race with a game third in the Hollywood Gold Cup against males on July 11, a race that Zenyatta skipped. Life Is Sweet will return to racing against females in the Grade 1 Hirsch, which is run over 1 1/16 miles.

Zenyatta, 5, the champion older female of 2008 who is unbeaten in 11 starts, will be a heavy favorite in the Hirsch. Both Life Is Sweet and Zenyatta are trained by John Shirreffs.

The Hirsch will be Life Is Sweet's first start at Del Mar. Life Is Sweet has won 5 of 12 starts and $654,810. Last Sunday, she zipped five furlongs in 57.60 seconds, the fastest of 85 recorded works at the distance.

"Right now, we're trying it," Wygod said. The trainer said he had intended to run her in the San Diego Handicap last Sunday, "but when she came down here we couldn't get her going."

Life Is Sweet has trained better on Del Mar's Polytrack main track in recent days, Wygod said, giving him more confidence about her chances on Sunday.

"If she likes the track like she does Santa Anita, it will be a good horse race," he said.

Life Is Sweet will be after her fourth stakes win of 2009. At Santa Anita earlier this year, she won the El Encino and La Canada Stakes and the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap.

The Hirsch is expected to have a field of eight at the most. Other probable starters are Anabaa's Creation, Briecat, Champagne Eyes, Dawn After Dawn, Patricia's Gem and Tidal Dance, though some could start instead in the $350,000 John Mabee Handicap on turf on Aug. 16.

Mr. Hot Stuff starting over

Mr. Hot Stuff had a miserable Triple Crown campaign, finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby and eighth in the Belmont Stakes. The reputation he built as a promising 3-year-old following a third-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby in April was gone after those starts.

His could begin to restore that reputation in a $60,000 allowance race over a mile at Del Mar on Friday.

"He ran in the Derby and the Belmont and didn't distinguish himself," trainer Eoin Harty said. "Whether it was the competition or the track, I don't know. This is a step down and we're looking for a better result."

Owned by WinStar Farms, Mr. Hot Stuff will be favored in the seventh race, which drew a field of seven. Blazing Spirit, a sharp maiden race winner at Hollywood Park June 21, and Fire Break, second in an allowance race on turf at Hollywood on July 19, are among the contenders.

Mr. Hot Stuff beat maidens at Santa Anita on Feb 1 in his fifth start. A full brother to the millionaire Colonel John, Mr. Hot Stuff was later third in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes before finishing two lengths behind Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby.

"I don't think I'd hurt anyone's feelings to say that he's not Colonel John," Harty said. "They're in different area codes. He needs to put it all together."

Global Hunter a Crosby supplement

Global Hunter, the upset winner of the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on turf on July 25, has been supplemented to Saturday's $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes over six furlongs on the main track.

Global Hunter races for Shawn Turner and Monty Pyle and is trained by A.C. Avila. If Global Hunter starts, it will be the shortest outing of his 25-race career. He has run seven furlongs three times, winning an allowance race and a minor stakes in Argentina in 2007 and finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park in July 2008.

Global Hunter has won 7 of 25 starts and $455,365.

The Grade 1 Crosby drew a field of six, and is led by Zensational, the 3-year-old colt who won the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap in his stakes debut at Hollywood Park last month.

Laura's Pleasure looks live in Sorrento

Laura's Pleasure makes her stakes debut in Friday's $150,000 Sorrento Stakes. Judging from her convincing win by 7 1/2 lengths in a five-furlong maiden race on July 2, she could play an outcome in the Grade 3 race over 6 1/2 furlongs.

Laura's Pleasure could have the early lead, but is capable of stalking, trainer Robert Troeger said.

"If we end up on the lead, fine," Troeger said. "I think we can be behind the first tier."

Troeger, 53, recently opened a stable after working as an assistant trainer to Jeff Mullins. He will be after his first stakes win in the Sorrento.