Champion Acclamation ran his winning streak to seven en route to his second straight triumph in the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes (gr. IT), drawing away in the stretch after setting the pace on the Del Mar turf July 21 (VIDEO).
Acclamation, a 6-year-old California-bred horse by Unusual Heat, has accumulated five grade I victories during his winning streak. Last year's Eclipse Award winner as the nation's best older horse is now 2-for-2 in 2012 after opening the year with a victory in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) June 9 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Patrick Valenzuela guided Acclamation, the 123-pound highweight, to a facile 2 3/4-length victory for trainer Don Warren and owners Judy and Bud Johnston and Peter and Mary Hilvers. The Johnstons' Old English Rancho bred Acclamation, who is out of the Silveyville mare Winning in Style.
The 1-2 favorite became the fourth horse to win back-to-back renewals of the Eddie Read, which was contested for the 39th time Saturday. He completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in a solid 1:46.86 over firm going.
“I think he is the best turf horse in the country at a mile and an eighth or more, don’t you? Has anybody beaten him at it yet? Until they do, he’s the best turf horse in the country. He’s just developed into a wonderful, wonderful horse," Warren said.
Interaction finished second, with Casino Host third in the field of five.
Acclamation opened up a one-length lead over 5-2 second choice Slim Shadey through the stretch for the first time with Hog's Hollow and Interaction settled behind those two and Casino Host trailing. Acclamation maintained an easy lead through quarter-mile fractions of :24.97, :49 flat, and 1:12.57. Slim Shadey increased the pressure on the leader up the backstretch.
As is his style, Acclamation picked up the tempo rounding the far turn and Slim Shadey lost ground, coming under a ride from Garrett Gomez to keep up. Acclamation hit the top of the stretch in control as the Argentina-bred Interaction mounted a rally under Brice Blanc. But there was no catching Acclamation, who opened up by four lengths midstretch and won easily while drifting out in the final furlong under vigorous handling by Valenzuela.
“I’m going to say this now and I mean it: he’s a great horse," Valenzuela said. "I’ve been lucky enough to ride some very good horses, champions, like Sunday Silence and Arazi, and Best Pal. And this horse is right there with them. No doubt about it. He fits. Any horse that runs the way he does, making all the pace himself, then comes home the way he did (last three eighths in :34.29) is a really good horse."
Interaction, a high-priced allowance/optional claiming winner at Hollywood Park in his first start of the year June 16 for trainer Ron McAnally, finished second by 2 1/4 lengths. Casino Host, ridden by Joe Talamo, was third. Hog's Hollow ran fourth as Slim Shadey weakened to last.
Acclamation, who won last year's Eddie Read by 3 1/4 lengths in a nearly identical time of 1:46.99, will likely be pointed to a return to the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) over Del Mar's Polytrack Aug. 26. The strapping bay won last year's Pacific Classic by a head over Twirling Candy .
“We’ll be looking at it,” Warren said.
After winning just two of his first 17 lifetime races, Acclamation has now won nine of his past 13. He began the year with a one-length win over Slim Shadey in the 1 1/4-mile Whittingham, a race he has now won three consecutive times.
Acclamation's 11th lifetime triumph in 30 races extended his earnings to $1,958,048. He has not been defeated since running last of 10 in the Charles Town Classic (gr. III) in April 2011 on a sloppy track.
He joins Special Ring (2003-04), Fastness (1995-96), and Wickerr (1981-82) as repeat victors in the Eddie Read.
Acclamation paid $3, $2.60, and $2.10, combining with Interaction ($5.40, $3), for a $13.40 exacta. Casino Host, making his first start for trainer Ron Ellis, paid $2.80 to show.
The total show pool in the race was $453,281. Of that, $378,984 was bet on Acclamation. There was a minus show pool of $66,680. Del Mar’s portion of that was $40,727.