INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Between them, Bourbon Bay and Champ Pegasus have accounted for four graded stakes wins in turf marathons in Southern California this year.
When they meet for the first time in Sunday's $250,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Hollywood Park, they do so at a time when their careers are headed in different directions. Literally.
Bourbon Bay, unraced since winning his third consecutive stakes in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita in April, is starting in the Hirsch as a prep for the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Nov. 13 and a possible trip to Hong Kong or Japan for a lucrative race later this year.
Champ Pegasus, who won his first stakes in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap on Aug. 29, may be bound for the $3 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, if he can win the Hirsch.
Champ Pegasus won a maiden race at Santa Anita on April 14, four days before Bourbon Bay's win in the San Juan Capistrano. Since then, Champ Pegasus has won 2 of 3 starts. In the Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles on turf, Champ Pegasus closed from seventh in a field of nine to win by 1 1/4 lengths, rallying between rivals in the final furlong.
"The opening showed up, he shot through there and got home," trainer Richard Mandella said. "He's answered every question we've had with the right answer. He's turned into a professional little racehorse."
Asked if the BC Turf is a possibility for Champ Pegasus, Mandella was quick to say, "if he runs good, yes."
Bourbon Bay was being pointed for the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Saturday but when the East Coast was hit with considerable rain, trainer Neil Drysdale decided to stay in California for the Clement Hirsch.
The 1 1/4-mile distance of the Hirsch is shorter than Bourbon Bay's best trip, Drysdale said.
"He's better over a mile and a half, but it shouldn't be a problem," Drysdale said.
After the San Juan Capistrano, Bourbon Bay was given a rest at a local farm. He is one of two Drysdale-trained runners in the Clement Hirsch, joined by Marlang, the winner of the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf here in July. Marlang was later last of nine in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga on Aug . 14.