Accelerate 'looks super,' booked for Pegasus World Cup work

Accelerate 'looks super,' booked for Pegasus World Cup work
Photo: Bee Buck Photography

Trainer John Sadler called Wednesday an “easy” one with rain in the forecast in Southern California and little to be done on track. But as skies clear into the weekend, business will pick up with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate scheduled for his first workout toward a career finale in the Jan. 26 Pegasus World Cup.

Sadler said Hronis Racing’s Accelerate will breeze Saturday or potentially Sunday depending on the forecast, adding that “we’re really right where we want to be.”

Following the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs, Accelerate remained in Kentucky for about a week, showing to potential breeders at Lane’s End Farm, where he’ll stand at stud in 2019.

Back to galloping, the 5-year-old by Lookin At Lucky is seeking to become the third straight Classic winner to train up to and win the Pegasus, run at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park. He follows the inaugural Pegasus winner Arrogate and Gun Runner, who also made the race his career finale.

“This is almost identical spacing from the Gold Cup to the Pacific Classic,” Sadler said. “It’s a really nice amount of time to work with.”

That Pacific Classic back on Aug. 18 arguably marked Accelerate’s most impressive performance to date. He won it by a stakes record 12 1/2-lengths, then went on to prep for the Breeders’ Cup with a score in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park, where the horse is currently based.

Sadler said Accelerate “really looks super” after six wins in seven starts throughout 2018.

Looking ahead to the Pegasus, “The sheets — the competition’s in for trouble,” Sadler added with a laugh, “because he ran a 1 in the Pacific Classic, then kind of bounced to 3 3/4 — well, not bounced, but ran a little slower in the Awesome Again. He matched that number in the Breeders’ Cup, so I feel like he’s going back down to a 1 for this next race.”

Accelerate didn’t put in one of his fastest races in the Breeders’ Cup, but also had to deal with the outside post in a field of 14. He powered by with a four-wide move leaving the turn and had enough in reserve to hold off the fast-closing Gunnevera. Now a legit Horse of the Year candidate, Accelerate's only defeat of the year came at nine furlongs and to City of Light, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner he’s expected to face in the Pegasus.

Given the mild cut back in distance from 10 furlongs, “It might change how we train him a little bit," Sadler said. "He’s fairly versatile when you see his running lines. He has a good style — doesn’t have to have the lead, but doesn’t need to be far back, either. I think a mile and an eighth is a good distance for him, although a lot of his best races this year were at a mile and a quarter.

“We’ll tweak it as we go along — see how sharp he is in his training.”

The Pegasus World Cup dirt race's purse is worth $9 million for 2019, with the rest of the $16 million total going to the new Pegasus turf race launched by The Stronach Group. Sadler confirmed Catapult, a 5-year-old by Kitten's Joy, is targeting the race.

“We were very pleased with his Breeders’ Cup race," Sadler said, with Catapult second by a half length to Expert Eye in the Mile. "I was really quite concerned when we got that amount of rain that he would maybe not act on the soggy turf. He ran really, really well, so I think the Gulfstream turf is going to be good for him. I think he can be even better on firmer ground.”

 

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