Acclamation worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course
Thursday in :49.80 but a decision on whether he would run in Saturday’s
Grade I Goodwood Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the main track or Sunday’s
Grade II Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles was on hold.
The 5-year-old California-bred horse by Unusual Heat-Winning Style has
been entered in both races.
Private clocker Gary Young caught Acclamation in :50 flat, “cruising.”
Winner of four straight stakes including three Grade I’s—two on
turf and the Pacific Classic on Del Mar’s Polytrack—Acclamation has been
mentioned as Horse of the Year timber, although part-owner Bud Johnston
opted to put that on the back burner.
“We’re still talking about it (which race he’ll run in),”
Johnston said after watching the workout with trainer Don Warren. “We’re
going to enter (the Hirsch) this morning (Acclamation drew post
position seven in a field of eight).
“We’ll probably decide where to run on Friday, maybe Saturday
morning, I don’t know,” continued Johnston, who heads up the breeding
operation at Old English Rancho in Sanger, an iconic California fixture
since 1948. “We’re just going to weigh all the options and see. There
are advantages to both races as far as we’re concerned and we’re going
to see which one might work out the best for him. We may be leaning a
little more towards the grass race. He just loves the grass. He looks so
good on it. But he trains all right (on the dirt). We’ve breezed him on
Johnston took a conservative stance when asked about the possibility of Acclamation being considered for Horse of the Year.
“You take those things one step at a time,” Johnston said. “In
order to get Horse of the Year you’d probably have to win the Breeders’
Cup Classic. If something like that falls in place, wonderful. But you
can’t point for something like that, really, right now. I would love to
see him win an Eclipse Award as a grass horse. That would be very nice.
“But that’s a long ways away. We’ve still got to do a lot yet . .
. but let me tell you something. The grass racing is tough. There are a
lot of good ones here and a lot of good ones from Europe.”
Johnston said there have been feelers to purchase Acclamation,
“but I haven’t seen anybody write a check yet. I've had a lot of phone
calls from Australia and Europe and a pretty serious offer from Canada.
And we’ve had offers from some of the sheikhs. Everybody calls you and
talks to you, but we’re having fun with him. I’ve been in the business
almost 60 years and it’s a great thrill to have a horse like this and
we’re enjoying it. Don and I have been together 34 years and I don’t
think we’ve had this much fun in 34 years.”
Johnston hopes to race Acclamation next year, if the fates allow.
To date, the bay has an 8-2-6 record from 27 starts, with earnings of
“Ideally, we would race him next year and then sell him to the
proper farm for breeding rights and then keep 10 percent or something,”
Johnston said. “That’s what I’d like to do. We’re still in the breeding
business. I’d love to send 10 mares to him every year. But I think he
has to stand some place in Kentucky.
“As much as I love California and I’m loyal to California, I
think it’s only fair to the horse to give him the best shot he can get,
and I think that means probably going to Kentucky or maybe even to
Johnston cited similarities between Acclamation and top stakes
winner and stallion Fleet Nasrullah, a foal of 1955 who won six stakes
races before siring the likes of Don B., Gummo, Coursing and Fleet
Treat, top stallions in their own right.
“Acclamation is a lot nicer to be around,” Johnston recollected.
“Fleet Nasrullah is in his (Acclamation’s) pedigree. He was a real
runner and a tremendous sire. You always hope Acclamation does as well.”
The field for the Goodwood, which goes as race seven on an
11-race program that starts at 1 p.m.: Acclamation, Patrick Valenzuela,
124; Coil, Martin Garcia, 121; Tres Borrachos, Joel Rosario, 119;
Preamble, Victor Espinoza, 119; Golden Itiz, Joe Talamo, 119; Miss
Match, Garrett Gomez, 121; Awesome Gem, David Flores, 119; Game on Dude,
Chantal Sutherland, 121; and Nijinsky’s Song, no rider, 116.
The field for the Hirsch: Ashtar, Hector Berrios, 121; Imponente
Purse, Chantal Sutherland, 119; Champ Pegasus, Garrett Gomez, 121;
Dreamy Kid, Joel Rosario, 121; Dynamic Host, David Flores, 119; Buenos
Dias, Brice Blanc, 119; Acclamation, Patrick Valenzuela, 124; and Make
Music for Me, Jose Valdivia Jr., 119.