Acclamation, who thrust himself into consideration for Horse of the
Year honors with a courageous victory in the Grade I Pacific Classic on
Del Mar’s Polytrack after winning two straight Grade I races on turf,
will likely be entered in both the Grade I Goodwood Stakes Saturday at 1
1/8 miles on Santa Anita’s dirt main track and Sunday’s Grade II
Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles. Trainer Don Warren
and part owner Bud Johnston are mulling over where the front-running
California-bred son of Unusual Heat will run.
Five Grade I stakes with major Breeders’ Cup implications
highlight the first weekend: on Saturday, the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes
for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes for
3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes
presented by Emirates Airline for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up
at 1 ¼ miles on turf; and the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes for fillies
and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 1/16 miles.
Each of those events is a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race. The
nominated winner will be entitled to automatic entry into the
corresponding Breeders’ Cup race at Churchill Downs Nov. 4 and 5. The
Grade I, $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles
on Sunday also is a “Win and You’re In” event. The Grade II, $150,000
Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles
complements the Oak Leaf on Sunday.
“We’re probably going to enter in both races,” Warren said at
Barn 66 Tuesday morning. “We’ll see who else enters, but I want to run
in the turf race. It’s a better spot, I think.”
A 5-year-old bay horse, Acclamation has an 8-2-6 record from 27
starts, with earnings of $1,538,048, but has flown under the proverbial
radar before winning the Grade II Jim Murray Handicap in May of 2010 and
winning five of nine starts since, his last three in a row, all Grade
I’s, two on turf before the Pacific Classic.
“They’ve been asking me all year how he’s improved so much,”
Warren said with a chuckle. “I just think he’s matured this year into
his full potential. It’s that and figuring out what he likes to do. He
likes to be out there in front.”
But being in front and setting legitimate fractions and holding
on to the wire takes an exceptional horse. “He must have a tremendous
set of lungs,” Warren said, “because he can still come home in :23 and
change in a mile and a half race. It’s amazing.”
Goodwood candidates include Acclamation, Coil, Game on Dude,
Golden Itiz, Miss Match, Nijinsky’s Song and Preamble. Hirsch probables
include Acclamation, Champ Pegasus and Imponente Purse.