Returning to his favorite turf course, favored Acclamation earned a repeat victory in the $150,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) with a seven-length romp at Hollywood Park May 14 (VIDEO).
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Acclamation bided his time as All Saint distanced the field for the first mile, then swung into gear and took over on the turn for home. Acclamation opened up a big lead in the lane and cruised to victory under a brisk hand ride, completing the 1 1/2-mile distance in a solid 2:25.63 over firm going.
"He was nice and relaxed all the way, just galloping," said Rosario, who rode Acclamation for the first time. "When I asked him to go, he just took off. He was much the best today.
"I knew that other horse (All Saint) always goes to the lead, but if he didn’t, I was prepared to go," the jockey added. "I could see (All Saint) was a little rank, so I knew I could take more time before I asked my horse.”
Donald Warren trains the winning Old English Rancho homebred for E.W. and Judy Johnston and partner Peter Hilvers. The 5-year-old California-bred horse is by Unusual Heat--Winning in Style, by Silveyville.
“It was a perfect plan today," Warren said. "We always knew the horse could sit second, as long as he’s not shuffled around and bumped around. He doesn’t like to be bothered too much and doesn’t like to be hit with the stick. Finally we got a race that set up for him, and it was done right. He’s easily rateable and he’s such a natural mile and one-half horse.”
Acclamation had been winless in four starts since taking the Jim Murray and Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap (gr. IT) in succession at last year's spring-summer meet. The bay has won four of six starts on the Hollywood grass course.
He set the pace in last year's Murray, opening a 10-length advantage and cruising to victory by 7 1/2 lengths in a time of 2:26.59. Acclamation now joins On the Acorn (2007-08) as the only two-time winner of the 21-year-old event.
Like last year, Falcon Rock was along for second, this time with Garrett Gomez aboard. They edged the late-arriving Haimish Hy and Mike Smith by a half-length, with Buenos Dias and All Saint completing the order. The field was reduced to five with the scratch of the 7-year-old mare Restless Soul by trainer Neil Drysdale.
All Saint drove to the front for Patrick Valenzuela, leading the field by as many as seven lengths while carving the opening half-mile in :48.64, six furlongs in 1:13.16, and the mile in 1:37.67. Acclamation, tracking in second, cut into the advantage heading into the final turn and took over approaching the quarter pole. He led by four lengths mid-stretch and came home under a long hold while continuing to expand his winning margin.
All but one of Acclamation's lifetime wins have come at Hollywood as the bay improved his overall mark to 5-2-6 in 24 starts with earnings of $608,048. The victory was worth $90,000.
Carrying 119 pounds, Acclamation paid $4.80, $2.80, and $2.40 and topped a $14 exacta. Michael Tabor's Falcon Rock, now winless in his past 10 start for trainer Simon Callaghan, returned $3.80 and $2.40. Haimish Hy, winner of the Hollywood Derby (g. IT) in November, was $2.20 to show.