Hard Not to Love Gets Two-Turn Test in Beholder Mile

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Hard Not to Love | Benoit

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Budding distaff division star Hard Not to Love (Hard Spun), a winner of three straight and five of six in her young career, will try two turns for the first time as a probable heavy favorite in Saturday's GI Beholder Mile S. at Santa Anita.

Starting two-for-two here last year, the $400,000 Keeneland September grad suffered her only defeat when third in the Angels Flight S. May 4. Returning off the bench to capture a local allowance Oct. 25, the 'TDN Rising Star' closed from last to post an 11-1 upset in the GI La Brea S. and doubled up when rallying to a 3 1/2-length conquest of the GII Santa Monica S. in her 4-year-old debut Feb. 15. Though her dam and second dam did most of their damage sprinting, Hard Not to Love has a right to appreciate two turns being a half-sister to Queen's Plate victress Wonder Gadot (Medaglia d'Oro).

The lone other graded stakes winner in the seven-horse group is Paul and Karen Eggert's Ollie's Candy (Candy Ride {Arg}). Opening her account with three straight wins, including in the local GII Summertime Oaks two seasons ago, the dark bay gamely captured the GI Clement L. Hirsch S. in her third try as a 4-year-old last summer at Del Mar. Third in the GII Zenyatta S. here Sept. 29, she chased a fast pace before checking in fourth when last seen Nov. 2 in the GI Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Lightly-raced Ce Ce (Elusive Quality) is an intriguing potential upsetter. A first-out victress going six furlongs here last April, the Bo Hirsch homebred posted a 97 Beyer when second by a neck to eventual GSW elder Lady Ninja (Majesticperfection) in an allowance May 11. Hung wide in the GI Acorn S. June 8 at Belmont, she made a run on the turn before weakening late to be fourth. Laid up for the remainder of her sophomore season, she returned in a local optional claimer Feb. 17 and overcame an awkward start to cruise to a 4 1/4-length tally.

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