Acclamation earned his first graded stakes win and snapped an 11-race losing streak when he dominated his rivals in the $150,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) in a 14-1 upset on the Hollywood Park turf May 15.
The California-bred son of Unusual Heat sped to the lead in the 1 1/2-mile event for apprentice jockey Christian Santiago Reyes and opened a 10-length advantage with four furlongs remaining. Acclamation drifted out in the stretch but held steady under urging to score by 7 1/2 lengths over Falcon Rock. Rendezvous finished third, with 2-1 favorite Scintillo, making his first U.S. start for trainer Neil Drysdale, running fourth.
Scintillo did not return to be unsaddled and was removed from the track by van.
The final time for the 12 furlongs was 2:26.59 over firm turf. Acclamation's victory was by the largest margin in the 20-year history of the Jim Murray.
"I wasn't planning to go to the front, but everybody took back so I just inherited the lead," said the 20-year-old Santiago Reyes following his first graded stakes win.
Santiago Reyes, a Puerto Rican native who loses his apprenticeship on May 16, spoke through an interpreter. "I've never been on him before so I wasn't sure what to expect. At the half-mile pole I still hadn't let him run, he was just galloping along."
With Alphie's Bet chasing in second distantly, Acclamation carved a half-mile in an easy :49.43, six furlongs in 1:14.85, and the mile in 1:39.34, and was never threatened.
Falcon Rock saved ground for jockey Joe Talamo while chasing the leader in fourth, coming off the fence in the stretch to advance into second. He held the place spot by a neck over Rendezvous, who rallied four wide from ninth at the quarter pole with Joel Rosario aboard. Rendezvous edged Scintillo, a group I winner in Italy in 2007, for third by a neck.
"He was in perfect position and was doing good," said Jockey Rafael Bejarano of the favorite. "When we straightened out he started lugging in real bad. For some reason, he didn't feel right behind. I was trying to protect him after the wire."
Acclamation produced his first victory since taking an optional claiming allowance race at Del Mar last August. He had placed in four graded races since his last win, including a third-place effort in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) Nov. 29. The bay colt was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Inglewood Handicap (gr. IIIT) April 25.
Trained by Donald Warren for owners E.W. and Judy Johnston, the Old English Rancho homebred boosted his earnings to $347,048 with his third win in 18 lifetime starts. The Jim Murray victory was worth $90,000.
Acclamation, whose fourth birthday is actually May 16, is out of the Silveyville mare Winning in Style.
"We were sure hoping he would run like this at this distance," Warren said. "Silveyville could run all day on the front end. We felt that when the time was right and he got a little more maturity, we're going to make him a mile and one-quarter horse. You have to work up to it.
"When he came by the wire the first time, he looked beautiful, like he was in a common gallop. I was basically thinking to myself, the half in 50, the half in 50, three quarters in 14 or 15. The horse will do the rest if he can."
The eighth choice in the field of 10, Acclamation paid $31, $12.40, and $6.80 and keyed a $152 exacta. The Irish-bred Falcon Rock, sent off as the second choice after a fourth-place effort in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. IIT) in his last start, returned $5.60 and $3.60. Third choice Rendezvous was $3.60 to show in his return to turf for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer after four consecutive starts on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride synthetic main track.
Scintillo was followed by San Juan runner-up Unusual Suspect, Romp, Stalingrad, History Boy, Skellytown, and Alphie's Bet, who was attempting to become the first 3-year-old to win the Jim Murray. Dynamic Range scratched.
A race earlier, Fortunate Victory, a 34-1 shot, triggered a record $1 trifecta payoff at Hollywood Park of $78,703.90. A 6-year-old Victory Gallop gelding who had lost his 29 previous starts for owner Samuel Almarez and trainer Jack Van Berg, Fortunate Victory rallied to capture the $25,000 maiden claimer by a neck under jockey Brice Blanc.
Outrageous Fortune, a 33-1 outsider, finished second and 42-1 longshot Souvenir Summer was third. The payout easily eclipsed the previous record of $35,563.10 set on May 1, 2007.