Dana White promised fireworks when UFC made its bow on Fight Island, and he has delivered on that promise. Three world title belts will be on the line at UFC 251 on July 11 when the promotion gathers for the first time on the private island in Abu Dhabi that they will call home for the month of July. UFC will contest three other cards on the island later this month.
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2018 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes Picks
Clement L. Hirsch Stakes Preview and Odds
The 2018 edition of the Clement L. Hirsch features a superstar in the form of Unique Bella, who will break from the #2 post position and who has been installed as the heavy 2-5 favorite in the morning line.
A four-year-old Pennsylvania-bred filly for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Unique Bella sports a record of eight wins and two runner-up finishes in 11 lifetime starts. The only blemish on her racing resume came last year in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint where she was an almost inexplicable seventh as the favorite (one of several big favorites to come up empty in last year's Breeders' Cup). She rebounded from that effort to close out 2017 with a win in the (G1) La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita race track.
For 2018 she's won two-of-three, including a last-out win in the (G1) Beholder Mile. She's now being asked to stretch out and extra 1/16 and while she's no doubt the class of the field, that may be the outer limit of her distance capabilities and if she goes too fast through the first part of the race she's going to need to guard against some of the closers in the field.
Expect her to be on the lead out of the gate with jockey Mike Smith hoping to control the early pace and take the field wire-to-wire.
La Force Looks to Turn the Tables
Second in the Beholder Mile at odds of 25-1, German-bred La Force is second choice in the Hirsch morning line at odds of 5-1. After launching her racing career in Italy, she's been running exclusively in southern California since the fall of 2016, and she's also a past Breeders' Cup participant, having run seventh in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf that year.
Since then most of her races have been on the dirt, and she's had four starts at the graded-stakes level in 2018, with the Beholder her best result in that bunch. She's a late closer that is going to want to see them going fast up front early and hope she'll be able to pass a few as they come down the stretch.
Along with Unique Bella, the other early speed in the race is likely to be Yuvetsi (8-1) who comes in off her first lifetime stakes win in the ungraded Santa Lucia Stakes at Santa Anita. Prior to that she was a well-beaten third in her first graded-stakes try, the (G3) Desert Stormer Stakes also at Santa Anita but going only six frulongs. Although she seems to be a filly that is improving with age, she's going to need to run the race of her life on Sunday and try to catch Unique Bella on an off day.
Rounding out the top four is the filly that finished right behind her in the Santa Lucia, Bernina Star, listed here at odds of 10-1. She does have some big race experience, having raced last year in a pair of Grade 1 events, where both times she finished well back in the field. Like Yuvetsi, she's going to need to take a big step forward here, and is likely running for a minor share of the purse.
The Clement L. Hirsch Stakes goes Sunday, July 29 from Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar, California. It goes early in the Del Mar Sunday card, as race #5 of 9 on the day. Expected post time for the race is 4:03 PM Pacific.
Entries w/ ML Odds
- Bernina Star (10-1)
- Unique Bella (2-5)
- La Force (5-1)
- Turkish Tabby (20-1)
- Shenandoah Queen (10-1)
- Yuvetsi (8-1)
Clement L. Hirsch Stakes Picks
- 1) #2 - Unique Bella
- 2) #3 - La Force
- 3) #6 - Yuvetsi
- 4) #1 - Bernina Star
Betting the Breeders' Cup Challenge
The Clement L. Hirsch is the second of two 'Win and You're In' races to be held on Sunday, and earlier in the day all eyes will be on the East coast for (G1) Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, a qulifying race for the 2018 Breeders' Cup Classic. Bet both races with an account at Bovada's online racebook.
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