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Acclamation Prepares for Eddie Read

Acclamation, who took Horse of the Meeting as well as older horse and grass division titles from the 2011 Del Mar season, returns with the targets of defending titles in the Grade I Eddie Read Handicap and Grade I, $1 million Pacific Classic this year.

Owned by Bud and Judy Johnston’s Old English Rancho and Peter and Mary Hilvers and trained by 59-year-old veteran Donald Warren, Acclamation arrived here last Wednesday (July 11) and settled into stall No. 40 at barn GG, the Del Mar home for Warren and Old English Rancho stock for decades. It’s the closest stall to the trainer’s office, traditionally reserved for a stable’s star and, in the case of Acclamation, one up from Norvsky, Old English Rancho’s other Del Mar stakes winner of 2011.

Acclamation, a six-year-old son of Unusual Heat, worked six furlongs in 1:14 2/5  this morning on the Jimmy Durante Turf course under jockey Patrick Valenzuela for Saturday’s Eddie Read Handicap. The intermediate split times from Del Mar clockers were  :14, :26 2/5, 38 2/5, and 51 flat. The “dogs” were up  to protect the inner part of the course and Acclamation came home the final quarter in :23 2/5 well past the middle of the track.

“It was a very good work, he looked wonderful out there and finished strong,” Warren said afterward. “He wasn’t blowing very hard when he came off the track and now that he’s back at the barn he’s cooling out well. We’re very pleased.”

Acclamation went wire-to-wire winning the Eddie Read by 3 ¼ lengths last year, five weeks before another start-to-finish victory trip in the Pacific Classic in becoming the first ever to sweep Del Mar’s premier turf and main track races.

The son of Unusual Heat finished 2011 with a record of five wins in seven starts and over $1.1 million in earnings. His once-postponed 2012 debut came in the Grade I Charlie Whittingham on June 12 at Hollywood Park, another wire-to-wire effort in 2:01.50 for the 1 ¼ miles on grass.

“The goal was to run him six times this year,” Bud Johnston said. “We missed one, over what turned out to be nothing. But he’s all right, and we’d love to repeat in both races here.”

Acclamation held off Twirling Candy by a head in the Pacific Classic, providing jockey Patrick Valenzuela a second Classic victory, 20 years after he guided Best Pal to a win in the inaugural edition of the race.

“It might be a tougher race this year,” Johnston said. “Although I thought Twirling Candy might have been the best horse in the country when we beat him last year.”



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