Trainer Donald Warren had big plans for Acclamation this fall that he hoped would culminate with an Eclipse Award, possibly for Horse of the Year. But instead, his hopes for a big year-end victory ride with his 5-year-old Cal-bred gelding in the Nov. 19 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT).
While Acclamation recovers from a foot injury, Norvsky will face six opponents in the 1 1/2-mile event. The son of the Danzig stallion Vronsky has the credentials to be a major threat in the Turf Cup, although he has never been farther than 1 1/8 miles. He captured the Cal Cup Classic for state-breds in his last start and has not been worse than second in his last seven starts. He will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard in the Cal Cup.
Norvsky is owned by E. W. and Judy Johnston, and Robert Riggio.
Norvsky will be stepping up in class, facing proven graded stakes winners Bourbon Bay, Falcon Rock, and the Graham Motion-trained shipper Sanagas.
Bourbon Bay, who drew the rail under Garrett Gomez, is a hard-knocking 5-year-old gelding by Sligo Bay trained by Neil Drysdale, who hasn’t run since a disappointing eighth-place finish in the grade I Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine. Prior to that, however, he was beaten a head in the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) and captured the 1 1/2-mile Cougar II Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Del Mar. Last year, he ran off three consecutive grade II victories in the San Luis Obispo, San Luis Rey, and San Juan Capistrano.
Falcon Rock, trained by Simon Callaghan and ridden by David Flores, is coming off a good second in the grade III Sunset Handicap at Hollywood in July. He also has second-place finishes behind Acclamation in the last two runnings of the grade II Jim Murray Handicap, although he was well-beaten both times.
The horse who adds intrigue to the race is Sanagas, a 5-year-old German-bred son of Lomitas who has made only nine starts in his career, winning the 1 5/8-miles Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in his last start. Prior to that he was a fast-closing fourth in the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont and captured the restricted Johns Call at Saratoga. In Germany, he won four of his five career starts, including his last three before coming to America. He is owned by Andreas Jacobs and once again will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh.
Rounding out the field are the grade I-winning mare Miss Match, who finished last in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in her last start; the Chilean import Ashtar, who showed improvement in his third start in America, finishing a solid fourth to Acclamation in the Clement Hirsch (gr. IIT) in his most recent start; and the German-bred and former French-trained Goldwaki, who has run two dismal races since coming here from the barn of Andre Fabre.