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Acclamation Seeks Whittingham Hat Trick

Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, will make his first start in eight months when he aims for his third consecutive victory in the Grade I, $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.


Set for 1 ¼ miles on turf, the Whittingham is one of three turf stakes – along with the Grade II, $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles and the $70,000 Manhattan Beach for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs – on the 11 race card. The Whittingham goes as the 10th race.


Trained by Don Warren for owner-breeders Bud and Judy Johnston and Peter and Mary Hilvers, Acclamation hasn’t raced since winning the Grade II Clement L. Hirsch last Oct. 2. The victory was the fifth in a row for the son of Unusual Heat and the Silveyville mare Winning in Style.


Two of the wins came during the Spring/Summer meet at Betfair Hollywood Park. The California bred repeated in the Grade II Jim Murray Memorial and the Whittingham Handicap after capturing both races in 2010.


Should Acclamation, who begins his 6-year-old season with nine wins in 28 starts and earnings of $1,628,048, prevail again in the Whittingham, he would join John Henry as a three-time winner. John Henry won what was then called the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap in 1980, 1981 and as a 9-year-old in 1984.


Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who last rode May 19 due to weight issues, has the mount on Acclamation. He’s 2-for-2 with the bay, taking the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar prior to the Hirsch.


Winner of the Grade II San Marcos Stakes Feb. 11 at Santa Anita, Slim Shadey will be making his first local appearance for owner Phil Cunningham and trainer Simon Callaghan.


The 4-year-old gelded son of Val Royal and the Chief’s Crown mare Vino Veritas has won three of 18 and earned $347,600. In his most recent race, Slim Shadey was second behind gate-to-wire winner Little Mike in the Grade I Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 5 at Churchill Downs.


Utopian, who finished a head behind Slim Shadey when runner-up in the San Marcos, will stretch to 10 furlongs again after winning the Grade III Inglewood Handicap April 27.


Trained by John Shirreffs for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Utopian, a 5-year-old Rock Hard Ten horse out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Alert, has won three of 11. His bankroll is $183,180.


Juniper Pass has earned two of his four wins over the Betfair Hollywood Park grass. Owned by Robert and Betty Irvin and trained by Ray Bell, the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid and the Coronado’s Quest mare Child Bride has earned $292,375 in 14 starts. He’s a two-time Grade II winner, capturing the San Luis Rey Stakes and San Juan Capistrano Handicap in succession in 2011.


Make Music for Me will be looking for his first graded victory for owners Ellen and Peter Johnson, Sr. and trainer Alexis Barba. The 5-year-old Bernstein horse out of the Carson City mare Miss Cheers is 4-for-26 with earnings of $529,100. He led throughout in a $62,000 allowance in his first start of the Spring/Summer meet May 19.


Bred in Kentucky by Richard Shultz, Make Music for Me is no stranger to Grade I races. The Whittingham will be his eighth appearance in a Grade I. His best finish was a second behind Lookin At Lucky in the 2009 Del Mar Futurity.


Barney Rebel steps up after a half-length victory in an optional claimer April 22 at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor and the Indian Ridge mare Opera Ridge has won three of 11 and banked $68,569. Dan Blacker trains the Irish bred for Dan Capen.


From inside out, the field for the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap: Utopian, Joe Talamo rides, 117 pounds; Juniper Pass, Rafael Bejarano, 117; Barney Rebel, Eswan Flores, 114; Slim Shadey, David Flores, 120; Make Music for Me, Martin Garcia, 116 and Acclamation, Patrick Valenzuela, 124.


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Older Comments about Acclamation Seeks Whittingham Hat Trick...

Good sense of humor about the lbs. overweight, manutim. Just sayin' that young Joe Talamo did a fine job riding your horse, too.
everything looks set.all excited. shame about i'll have another.racing needs heroes although i really did not think he would win. any guesses on what weight acclamation will actually carry? doesn't really concern because he carries me every day.
This is a good distance and good course for Acclamation's return. Best of luck to the champion. The Euro, Barney Rebel is fast, but not much past a mile, maybe 9f., so far.

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