ARCADIA, Calif. -- With two graded stakes wins this year, Spring House has become the top turf marathon horse in California. He will need to do more to win his third major race in Saturday's $250,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita.
A win in the Grade 1 Hirsch would not only be the most prestigious of Spring House's career, but also would further enhance his chances for the Breeders' Cup Turf here on Oct. 25.
Winning Saturday's race over 1 1/4 miles on turf will not be easy. Spring House is part of a seven-horse field that includes Out of Control, the runner-up in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap earlier this year, and Red Giant, the winner of the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 3.
Spring House won the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap as the 3-5 favorite on Aug. 23, rallying from fifth in a field of nine to win by 1 1/2 lengths. The second- and third-place finishers from that race, Transduction Gold and You Got Me Rocking, are part of the Clement Hirsch field.
The Del Mar Handicap was Spring House's first win since the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap here back in February.
"We don't have to prove too much," trainer Julio Canani said. "He won easily the other day."
Canani said that Spring House has thrived this year. "He's doing very good," he said. "This is one of the soundest horses I've ever trained."
Red Giant has made only one start this year, in the Fourstardave. He won by a neck, rallying from fourth through traffic to record the second graded stakes win of his career. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Red Giant won the Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs at 3 and placed in two other graded stakes last year.
"He's a high-energy sort," said assistant trainer Michael McCarthy. "He puts it all out there, I guess."
Red Giant has the ideal style for turf, a closer who can stalk the pace for the first half of a race and then unleash a rally that puts him in contention.
"I think it's a big asset," McCarthy said.
Out of Control returns to turf after a failed try on the main track, finishing last of seven behind reigning Horse of the Year Curlin in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 30.
Out of Control won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile on turf here last year, and is trying to win his first race over 1 1/4 miles on turf. He lost by a nose at that distance to Dancing Forever in the Manhattan Handicap earlier this year, a result that has trainer Bobby Frankel confident about Saturday's race.
Frankel dismissed Out of Control's loss to Curlin.
"You've got to take the race off his form," Frankel said. "I give him a good chance. I want to see him win."