After Hard Not to Love soared to a Grade 1 win in the La Brea Stakes on December 28, the original plan was to wait to run her again until the Grade 1 Beholder Mile Stakes on March 14, but she had other ideas, convincing trainer John Shirreffs that she is primed and ready for the Grade 2, $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes on Saturday, February 15.
The 4-year-old filly finished off her serious preparations Friday with a five-furlong workout in 1:00.60 under her regular jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith.
“She went really well,” Mike said. “She also stayed relaxed while she was out on the track, which is a big thing with her.”
Hard Not to Love froze for a moment or two coming out onto the track before the La Brea, but she was quick to recover. In the race, she settled in the back of the pack and circled the field in the stretch, drawing off to score by 2 1/4 lengths. She has won four of her five career starts for trainer John Shirreffs.