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
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
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.