Hard Not to Love charged through the lane to finish second by a diminishing three-quarters of a length in the Grade 2 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita.
The Grade 1-winning filly finished off the board for the first time in Del Mar’s Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on August 2.
“Certainly was an improvement over her last race at Del Mar,” John Shirreffs said. “She warmed up nicely and got in the gate perfectly, everything was good. She broke well and got into a good position early. Down the backside, she lost a little of ground, but then came on and turning for home she really rallied and put in a big effort to finish second.”
This was a tactical challenge against just three others. The winner Harvest Moon sat the perfect trip tracking heavy favorite Fighting Mad, who set similar fractions to her last two wins but did not have the same reserve in the stretch, with Hard Not to Love collaring her as they approached the wire for second.
“Proud of her, we just didn’t win,” Mike Smith said. “I was telling John, ‘You know they have a race called the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint going seven-eighths.’ I say we take a shot!”