Victor Espinoza returns aboard Accelerate after winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park

Victor Espinoza returns aboard Accelerate after winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park

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Accelerate Pulls Away Late in Gold Cup Victory

Son of Lookin At Lucky now has a pair of grade 1 wins at the classic distance.

The way the $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) was playing out May 26, Hronis Racing's Accelerate was either going to run into trouble or run away.

Locked on the inside in the second turn of the 1 1/4-mile dirt test at Santa Anita Park, the 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky  was asked for his best by jockey Victor Espinoza but had nowhere to run behind Dr. Dorr and favored City of Light.

Late in the bend, though, Espinoza got the John Sadler trainee into the clear—even though he had to yank his left rein to keep him from blowing the turn—and Accelerate powered away to win by 4 1/4 lengths in a final time of 2:01.38.

"He had a lot of patience—a lot of confidence in the horse," Sadler said of Espinoza's ride. "He was riding confidently, in the sense that he knew his horse could get the distance."

City of Light, who defeated Accelerate by a neck last time out in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 14, chased Dr. Dorr all the way around the main track but could not get by. The two-time grade 1 winner finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Dr. Dorr. Pavel came in fourth and was followed by Prince of Arabia and Full of Luck to complete the order of finish.

"Accelerate ran really strong at the end, and we couldn't go with him," said City of Light's jockey, Drayden Van Dyke. "My horse relaxed real good. I definitely think he can get the distance. If I had the ideal trip, it would've been where Accelerate was."

Dr. Dorr, another Lookin At Lucky 5-year-old who has been stepping up the class ladder all season (he won the grade 2 Californian Stakes last time out), ran fractions of :23.28, :47.40, and 1:11.70 through six furlongs, with about a one-length lead throughout. Although he held City of Light at bay, there was no holding off the chestnut freight train that was Accelerate in the stretch.

Early on, however, Espinoza had to ask Accelerate to get into the race. Out of the gate, after a break from the inside in the field of six, Espinoza hustled his mount to get into position, and the urgency paid off.

"I knew the post wasn't great, but I never worry about the post position with this horse," Espinoza said. "When he runs, he runs, and when he's going to run a big race, that's it. ... I helped him out of the gate, which was my job today. If I let him break by himself, he can be a little bit slow out of the gate, so I encouraged him."

Prior to the Oaklawn Handicap, Accelerate won the March 10 Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino (G1), and Sadler said after the Gold Cup victory that another 1 1/4-mile grade 1 is where he'll point next.

"We weren't scared of City of Light today at this distance," the trainer said. "Accelerate has been such a good horse for us, with a lot of great wins on his résumé. He was training really well for this race, so I knew he'd run well. The (Aug. 18) Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar is the race we'll be looking for (next)."

Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham out of the Awesome Again  mare Issues, Accelerate has a 7-5-5 record from 19 starts and more than $1.7 million in earnings. He was a $380,000 purchase from Bluewater Sales' consignment to the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Video: Gold Cup at Santa Anita S. (G1)