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Include Me Out Set to Defend Hirsch Title

Include Me Out is set to defend her title Saturday in the $300,000 Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. Same daughter of Include only, at five, a year older. Same 1-1/16-mile race, same Breeders’ Cup Challenge series affiliation as a “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifier for the $2 million Ladies’ Classic on Friday, November 1 at Santa Anita.

But, as trainer Ron Ellis emphasizes, not the same situation.

“Last year she was coming off a race at Hollywood Park (Grade I Vanity) that was a disappointment,” said Ellis, who conditions Include Me Out for Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable. “She had a big lead in the stretch, and we didn’t think there was any way she could lose but unfortunately she thought her job was done and was passed near the wire.

“So the Clement Hirsch was a vindication race where she stamped herself as the best filly on the West Coast. This year, the circumstances are very different.”

Include Me Out followed the Hirsch with third-place finishes in the Zenyatta at Santa Anita and the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, the latter behind Eclipse Award winner Royal Delta and 2011 2-year-old Juvenile Filly champion My Miss Aurelia.

“The second half of the year I had trouble keeping weight on her and I knew she was getting a little tired, but she kept going and ran a great race in the Breeders’ Cup,” Ellis said. “So we gave her a well-deserved (seven-month) rest and we’re hoping to go into the Breeders’ Cup this year with a fresher horse.”

Which brings us to the Clement L. Hirsch.

Include Me Out won the 6-furlong Desert Stormer Handicap in her 2013 debut on June 16 at Hollywood Park at odds of 4-1. It was somewhat surprising, even to Ellis considering the layoff, some accomplished competition and the fact that Include Me Out had no stakes victories at sprint distances.

Thoughts of a second race at Hollywood Park were soon set aside and the Hirsch became the focus.

“It’s a lot to ask the second time out off a layoff and first time around two turns of the year,” Ellis said. “And I’m not sure that the outside (No. 9) post is the place to be the way the track has been playing. But she ran very well in the comeback from the layoff and she worked well over the track (a bullet four furlongs in :46 4/5 on Monday and Joe (Talamo) knows her well so he’ll do what he has to do.”

 

 

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