, ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, winner of
the inaugural Pacific Classic twenty years ago aboard another Cal-Bred,
Best Pal, led from wire-to-wire Sunday under masterful handling to win
the 21st running of Del Mar’s $1 million signature event.
Acclamation, sent postward at 4-1 in the field nine older horses,
took command leaving the gate of the Grade I mile and one-quarter
contest, shook off the stalking Game on Dude at the head of the stretch
and then courageously withstood the lengthy challenge of 5-2 favored
Twirling Candy, scoring by a head.
Acclamation’s time of 2:00.61 was the fastest Pacific Classic since
Del Mar installed Polytrack as its main track surface in 2007. The final
half-mile was run in :47.73 with a final quarter-mile in exactly 24
Stately Victor was third, four lengths behind Twirling Candy, and a
nose in front of the fading Game on Dude, the Santa Anita Handicap
winner piloted by Chantal Sutherland. Bourbon Bay and Great Warrior were
Acclamation is a five-year-old son of Unusual Heat bred by the Old
English Rancho of co-owners Bud and Judy Johnston – the other owners are
the Johnstons’ son-in-law and daughter, Mary and Peter Hilvers. He is
conditioned by Don Warren.
Acclamation was scoring his third straight Grade I success, having
won the Charles Whittingham Stakes at Hollywood Park prior to taking the
Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar July 29. It was his eighth win in 27
starts and first money of $600,000 increased his earnings to $1,538,048.
To his supporters in the Pacific Classic day crowd of 29,267, he
returned $10.80, $5.40 and $5. Twirling Candy paid $4 and $3.40, while
Stately Victor returned $7 to show.
Since the Pacific Classic is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and
You’re In” program, Acclamation will have the entry fee of $150,000
into the Breeders’ Cup Classic waived, with a stipend to cover travel
For the 48-year-old Valenzuela, Acclamation’s triumph marks a return
to glory in a career of ups and downs. He won the 1991 inaugural of the
Pacific Classic in come-from-behind fashion aboard Best Pal, contrasting
with Acclamation’s start-to-finish win Sunday.
Acclamation is the fifth Cal-bred to win the Pacific Classic, preceded by Best Pal, Bertrando, Free House and General Challenge.
Because there were no perfect tickets in the Pick Six, Wednesday’s
program will have a carryover of $341,252. Post time is 2 p.m.