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Acclamation Tops List of Whittingham Nominees

Two-time winner joined by Bourbon Bay and Slim Shadey for June 9 Hollywood turf test.

Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, tops a list of 10 nominees to the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT), which will be run at Betfair Hollywood Park June 9 on the turf.

Named in honor of the all-time leading stakes winning trainer at Hollywood Park with 222 victories, the Whittingham is the most significant of three turf stakes on the program. The others on a card that will also feature the simulcast of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), are the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap (gr. IIT) and the $70,000 Manhattan Beach Stakes.

A California bred son of Unusual Heat owned by breeders Bud and Judy Johnston and Peter and Mary Hilvers and trained by Don Warren, Acclamation is scheduled to make his much anticipated 6-year-old debut in the 1 ¼-mile Whittingham.

The race has been kind to Acclamation, who missed the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) April 27 due to a minor setback.

The bay has won the Whittingham in gate-to-wire fashion the last two years. If successful June 9, Acclamation would join John Henry as the lone three time winner of a race that was formerly called the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap. John Henry won in 1980 and 1981, and as a 9-year-old in 1984.

Acclamation tuned up for the Whittingham with a one-mile breeze June 1 over the Hollywood turf course in 1:41 1/5. He worked in company with stablemate Norvsky, who is also nominated for the Whittingham. Norvsky was timed in 1:41 4/5.

During his championship season, Acclamation won his final five starts, completing 2011 with a victory in the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. IIT) last Oct. 2 at Santa Anita Park. Overall, he’s won nine of 28 and earned $1,628,048.

Other nominees for the Whittingham include Bourbon Bay, Slim Shadey, and Inglewood winner Utopian.

A last-to-first winner of the San Juan Capistrano (gr. IIT) April 22, his second victory in the 1 ¾-mile marathon, Bourbon Bay will be seeking his initial score over the Hollywood Park grass. He’s been second or third in five of six local turf starts for owners David and Jill Heerensperger and Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale.

The upset winner of the San Marcos (gr. IIT) Feb. 11, Slim Shadey comes off a second-place finish in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) May 5 at Churchill Downs. Simon Callaghan trains the 4-year-old Val Royal gelding for owner Phil Cunningham.

The remaining nominees to the Whittingham are Barney Rebel, Juniper Pass, Make Music for Me, and the Drysdale-trained duo of Omayad and Smug.