08/05/2007 12:00AM

Nashoba's Key beats traffic in Hirsch


DEL MAR, Calif.-Apparently, it will take more than a case of crafty race-riding from a rival jockey to end Nashoba’s Key’s undefeated streak.

In Sunday’s $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap at Del Mar, Nashoba’s Key overcame traffic in a field of four to win her sixth consecutive race, four of them stakes.

The victory emphasized her status as the leading older female in the West. To win the Grade 2 Hirsch over 1 1/16 miles, Nashoba’s Key needed a patient ride from jockey Joe Talamo, 17.

Talamo and Nashoba’s Key were held on the rail on the final turn by jockey Victor Espinoza, who was racing two wide aboard the Grade 1 winner Balance. For a few strides, Talamo had Nashoba’s Key idling behind the dueling front-runners, River Savage and Bai and Bai.

When Balance rallied between River Savage and Bai and Bai turning for home, Nashoba’s Key finally found room with a wide rally. She unleashed a remarkable kick to win the Hirsch by 1 1/2 lengths over Bai and Bai. Balance finished third, clear of a well-beaten River Savage.

“I had so much horse under me,” Talamo said. “She had a kick that was out of this world.”

Nashoba’s Key ($3) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:48.29. Owned by breeder Warren Williamson and trained by Carla Gaines, Nashoba’s Key, 4, has earned $623,460.