Acclamation made it consecutive grade I wins when he milked a soft pace and kicked away on the final turn en route to a 3 1/4-length victory in the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT) on the turf at Del Mar July 23 (VIDEO).
This was the third straight graded stakes victory for Acclamation, who shortened up in distance in the Eddie Read. He captured the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 1/2 miles May 14 and the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) at 10 furlongs June 11, both at Hollywood Park, in his two prior starts.
The cutback to 1 1/8 miles in the Eddie Read made little difference to the 5-year-old son of Unusual Heat--Winning in Style (by Silveyville), who is raced by his California breeders, Bud and Judy Johnston of Old English Rancho, in partnership with Peter and Mary Hilvers.
Don Warren trains Acclamation, who was ridden to victory by Joel Rosario. The final time was a sharp 1:46.99.
Jeranimo, after chasing Acclamation all the way around, finished second, with 3-2 favorite Caracortado a non-threatening third.
The Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 3/8 miles Aug. 28 is likely next for Acclamation, whose recent success could move him to the top of the national intermediate turf rankings. The Del Mar Handicap is a Breeders' Cup Challenge race for the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT), which Warren said is the ultimatate goal.
Caracortado, breaking from the far outside with Acclamation to his immediate inside, took the lead out of the gate before he was wrestled back by Joe Talamo. But the early aggressiveness left the favorite wide on the clubhouse turn as Acclamation went on to get a narrow early advantage over Jeranimo, racing at the rail for Garrett Gomez.
Rosario kept Acclamation on the outside of Jeranimo and lulled his rivals to sleep while stepping an opening quarter mile in :24.38 and the half in :48.56. That gave Acclamation a huge tactical edge and Rosario asked Acclamation to kick on with it entering the final turn. They ran six furlongs in 1:12.21 and Acclamation was in command at the quarter pole. He opened up in the stretch by two lengths and had no danger at the furlong pole as he strode home impressively under a hand ride.
“He was very comfortable today," Rosario said after his first win in the Eddie Read. "I could see his ears up and going back and forth. He was just having fun out there. This was like when I rode him in (the Jim Murrary Handicap) up at Hollywood. He ran the same way that day."
Jeranimo was no match for the winner but stubbornly held off Caracortado by a half length for second. Caracortado, a fine runner-up in the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) in his last start, rallied on the outside to get third by a nose over the stalking Maryland invader Smart Bid . Leroy's Dynameaux was next and Goldwaki trailed distantly.
“He broke fast, but he doesn’t want to run that way," Talamo said of the favorite. "There was no pace, though. Nothing to run at. My horse ran hard at the finish, but it was too late by then.”
The late bloomer Acclamation carried top weight of 123 pounds, four more than both Jeranimo and Caracortado. The winner's share of $180,000 boosted Acclamation's career bankroll to $938,048 on a record of 7-2-6 in 26 races.
The winner's job was made considerably easier by the scratch of the grade II-winning mare Celtic Princess, who would have given Acclamation much more pace pressure. Kid Edward also scratched.
This was the third grade I win for Acclamation and his first away from Hollywood Park, where he scored repeat triumphs in both the Murray and the Whittingham this spring. Warren was planning to run Acclamation in the closing-day Sunset Handicap (gr. IIIT) in an attempt to complete a rare sweep of Hollywood's turf distance events, but said he was overruled.
"The owners made the call and it was a good one," he told TVG moments after the Eddie Read.
Warren said Acclamation's ability to run on the turns is what separates him from his rivals. "I told (Rosario) I'd like to see him a couple of lengths cruising on the turn and that's what he did," he said.
Acclamation was just third choice in the Eddie Read and paid $8.40, $4, and $3 while keying a $37.60 exacta. Jeranimo returned $5 and $3.40. Caracortado was $2.40 to show.
He was also part of Del Mar's new head-to-head wager, featuring a low 10% takeout rate in which he was pitted against Caracortado. A total of $31,413 was handled and Acclamation returned $4.80. The Del Mar racing office plans to offer the head-to-head wager on the Saturday feature race throughout the seven-week meet.