One thing that anybody can say about Acclamation is that he has put a giant exclamation on his entire 2011 campaign. The son of Unusual Heat was a late bloomer, as a three-year-old he ran in primarily allowance races and in some graded stakes. He never won a stakes that year, but he did hit board in most. It wasn’t until 2010 that Acclamation won his first graded stakes and Grade 1. In fact, he collected those victories in consecutive fashion. However, after that he went on a losing streak that lasted four races.
It would be in the Grade 2, Jim Murray Handicap, the same race he earned his first graded stakes victory, that he would put it all together. He sat chilly before wresting the lead, just before the field turned for home. Down the stretch he only lengthened his advantage, winning in a sharp 2.25.63, for the 12 furlong contest.
Since then all Acclamation has done is win, win, win, and win again. Four more races, four grade stakes, four decisive victories. The handsome, dark bay stallion has proven his versatility in many different ways this year. He has won at distances as short as nine furlongs to as long as 12 furlongs and he has also won on two different surfaces this year, Turf, and Del Mar’s Polytrack. Also, take into note, that in his last five starts he has been ridden by three different riders. Not many top flight horses have riders on and off so often these days.
In any other year, Acclamation would have a vice grip on the Championship Turf title, but not this year. Cape Blanco, the Irish invader poses a big threat, even after being retired before the Breeders Cup. If you ask me, Acclamation is still the division leader, even with Cape Blanco’s East Coast dominance.
I understand the weight of each one of Cape Blanco’s wins. It is an unbelievable feat to cross the Atlantic a total of six times, and still win three of the most prestigious turf races on the East Coast. Sweeping the Man O’ War, Arlington Million, and Joe Hirsch Classic will not be duplicated any time soon. However, Acclamation has done more.
I understand that many will say it is easy to stay in one state and just race right out of the barn, however, what people don’t mention is that the state he races in is California, and that pretty much takes up the whole West Coast. He has won on three different turf courses, two different surfaces, and with three different jockeys. He consistently races in the top tier turf races at each track and wins decisively. He is the consummate professional racehorse.
Acclamation has swept the California Turf Division and then some, when he won the Pacific Classic in track record fashion. While one can say Cape Blanco’s accomplishments will not soon be duplicated, one can say the exact same for Acclamation. It is sad that Cape Blanco was retired, but with that announcement meaning that his presence will be lacking at the Breeders Cup, one cannot hand him the crown let alone the division lead, not with the race so close. Up to this point Acclamation has done more, and should be your division leader, plain and simple.
While it is a shame both horses had their years cut short due to injury, Acclamation has done the most. His wins were in the most prestigious turf races in California and were against the best competition there was. His accomplishments will not likely be duplicated any time soon. He should not be punished for racing in a state that takes up nearly the entire West Coast, when he constantly runs in the top races, running competitive times and winning decisively every time. Based on win streaks and graded stakes wins, Acclamation has simply done more.
Meanwhile Cape Blanco has always been a top class turf runner. The son of all-world sire Galileo was an undefeated and dual group stakes winner as a juvenile. Then last year, wins in the Irish Derby and Irish Champion pointed him out as one of the best three-year-olds in the world. This year he has been even better, after losing his first three races in Dubai, France and England against some of the best horses anywhere, he put things together in a big way by winning not once, not twice, but three times, in Grade 1 competition in America.
You are talking about the Jim Murray? That’s nice and all, but come on, how can you compare that to the likes of the Man O’ War, Arlington Million, or Turf Classic? Save the Breeders’ Cup Turf, those are the three biggest, most prestigious turf races America has to offer, and Cape Blanco won them all.
Don’t get me wrong, I think what Acclamation has been able to do in winning his last five races, is an excellent streak, but this debate is about who has been the best turf horse in America this year. Looking at his five race win streak, the one race that stands out is the Pacific Classic, which of course was run on Del Mar’s main track. That was the one race where he beat really good horses, but unfortunately, in this argument, it cannot be included, because it is not on turf. Therefore, his resume of wins in the Jim Murray, Whittingham Memorial, Eddie Read, and Clement L. Hirsch simply does not stack up to Cape Blanco’s terrific triple.
That’s exactly right, what Cape Blanco has done in 2011 is not normal. I do not believe there has ever been a horse to sweep the Man O’ War, Arlington Million, and Turf Classic to be denied the Eclipse Award as the Turf Champion, and I don’t think it should happen this year either.
The travel has been simply amazing. Dubai, France, England, and then back in forth to the U.S. three times, is the definition of a horse not afraid to go after the big races. Racing needs more horses like this, and it should be rewarded. Acclamation meanwhile, has only left California once, which turned out to be a debacle in the West Virginia slop.
Yes, he is the best turf horse in California, and has proved that without shadow of a doubt. That is no small feat, and some years it would be enough to win an Eclipse, but not this year. Not with what Cape Blanco has proven in three remarkable trips to America. Twice he handed our two-time Champion, Gio Ponti his hat. Those races were in essence the passing of the Turf Champion torch. Who has Acclamation beaten?
It is a shame that Cape Blanco was injured in the Turf Classic, [By the way, doesn’t he deserve some serious credit for winning that race despite the injury?] because it would have been great to see him in the Breeders’ Cup, and let’s be honest here … if a healthy Cape Blanco were facing Acclamation in the BC Turf, would you really be liking the Californian’s chances? I know I wouldn’t. And I’m not sure how you can say how Acclamation’s 4 of 5, 2011 record on turf, in less prestigious races no less, is greater than what Cape Blanco already accomplished this year. Acclamation still has a chance to add to it in the Breeders’ Cup, and frankly he will need to, because if he loses, this debate is all but over.