Acclamation extended his winning streak to five races with a victory
in the $150,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita on
The only suspense is which BC race the 5-year-old horse will run in next month.
Acclamation pressed pacesetter Make Music for Me until taking
the lead going into the stretch and winning the Grade 2 race by
three-quarters of a length under Patrick Valenzuela.
In the Hirsch, Acclamation ran 1¼ miles in 1:59.45 and paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 2-5 favorite.
Champ Pegasus, last year's winner, returned $2.80 and $2.10,
while Imponente Purse was another 3½ lengths back in third and paid
$2.20 to show.
With a month to go until the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs,
trainer Don Warren and majority owner and breeder Bud Johnston can now
focus on whether to run Acclamation in the 1½-mile Turf against European
horses or the 1¼-mile Classic on the dirt against North America's top
The weather in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 5, which is always dicey, is likely to be the deciding factor.
"I don't want to run on the Churchill Downs (dirt) track
unless it's wet," said Johnston, who will have to pay $100,000 to make
his horse eligible for either race. "I'm not going to run on a deep
If rain softens Churchill Downs' turf course, a condition that would favor the Europeans, Acclamation could run in the Classic.
"We think we would have a big shot on firm turf," Warren said.
"We don't think the Europeans are all that great, unless it's soft
turf. Then they have a big advantage when it's yielding or soft. I would
prefer the Breeders' Cup Turf. We could go either way, depending on the
A Breeders' Cup victory could insert Acclamation into the
conversation for Horse of the Year. He has won three consecutive Grade 1
stakes this year, the Eddie Read, Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap
and the Pacific Classic.
"It's pretty hard for a California horse to get Horse of the
Year," Johnston said. "If we won the Turf and a long shot won the
Classic, then we might be thrown into the picture. If we won the
Classic, then we would definitely contend, but that's a lot of ifs."
East Coast-based Cape Blanco won his third Grade I stakes
Saturday in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park to go with
earlier victories in the Man o'War and Arlington Million.
"They're making a big deal of Cape Blanco winning three Grade
1s this year, but he's not the only horse that's won three Grade 1s,"
Warren had entered Acclamation in Saturday's 1 1-8-mile
Goodwood Stakes on Santa Anita's newly refurbished dirt track, but
scratched the horse Friday in favor of running on the turf. Acclamation
had won two Grade 1 races on the turf at Hollywood Park before winning
the $1 million Pacific Classic by a head on Del Mar's synthetic surface
"It was kind of an important trial because if he hadn't won
today I probably would have scratched the Breeders' Cup race," Johnston
Acclamation stayed true to his style of running on or near the lead.
"We had planned some strategy for either (Champ Pegasus) to go
to the lead or (Make Music for Me), so we were actually prepared to lay
second to somebody if they wanted to go," Warren said. "Otherwise, we
would have put our horse on a two or three-length lead."
Valenzuela wasn't worried when Champ Pegasus made a run at him in the stretch.
"I had plenty of horse left," he said. "He's just a great,
great horse who just gives it his all and lays it out on the racetrack."
Trainer Richard Mandella said he would give serious thought to running Champ Pegasus in the BC Turf.
"The winner was just too much, but my horse was trying hard,"
he said. "Maybe with another race in him, I'll rise to that level next