Nels Erickson’s California-bred Ultra Blend, the longest shot in the
field of fillies and mares at 10-1 despite an ultra consistent record,
rallied from last place to win the featured Grade I $300,000 Clement L.
Hirsch Stakes under comebacking jockey Tyler Baze Saturday at Del Mar.
Restrained in the early stages of the mile and one-sixteenth contest
over Polytrack, Ultra Blend circled her opposition into the stretch and
drove to a neck triumph over Zazu, lone three-year-old in the field of
five who closed stoutly on the rail. Switch,the 7-10 favorite, finished
third, a length back of Zazu, her stablemate from the barn of trainer
John Sadler, with St. Trinians fourth and pacemaker Freedom Star fading
to last place.
Withdrawn from the original line-up were Washington Bridge and Ellafitz.
Ultra Blend, a five-year-old daughter of Richly Blended trained by
Art Sherman, was scoring her eleventh victory in 23 starts and first
prize of $180,000 increased her career bankroll to $845,646. Testifying
to her consistency are five seconds and an equal number of thirds. Final
time was 1:42.28.
Ultra Blend returned $23.60, $7 and $2.80. Zazu, piloted by Garrett
Gomez, paid $3.80 and $2.20, while favored Switch returned $2.10 to
show. Because of heavy wagering to show on Switch, there was a minus
show pool totaling $21,291.71.
For the 28-year-old Baze, Ultra Blend’s triumph marked the high point
of a comeback begun in late April at Hollywood Park. The rider
sustained major injuries July 24 of last summer at Del Mar when his
mount butted him in the face prior to a race. He missed the remainder of
the year and more than four months of 2011 while recuperating.
Because there were no perfect tickets in the Pick Six, Sunday’s
program, featuring the “Battle of the Exes” match race between jockeys
Chantal Sutherland and Mike Smith and the $150,000 Best Pal Stakes for
two-year-olds, will also present a carryover of $145,934 starting with
the fifth of ten races.