Race of the Week 2017

Acclamation the UN Target

Saturday’s $750,000 Betfair/TVG United Nations Stakes (G1) will have to get along without Presious Passion for its 57th running, but a worthy front-running successor just blew into town in the form of E.E. and Judy Johnston’s Acclamation.

The 4-year-old California-bred, trained by Donald Warren, is coming off major scores in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap and the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park, both achieved with the same tactics that Presious Passion used to win the last two renewals of the United Nations: Go to the front and improve your position.Warren and Acclamation shipped to Monmouth on Monday, and the horse has been galloping on the main track here every day.

“We came East because the U.N. distance (a mile and three-eighths) is right up his alley,” Warren said. “I’ve watched the races at Monmouth and the course looked like it was in good shape, so we came.

“And of course, the money was attractive,” said the trainer. “There are no races for him like that in California at the right distance.”

Warren has been training horses in California for 40 years, and this is the first time he’s ever shipped one East for a stakes race.

“I never had a horse of this caliber before,” said Warren. “This guy keeps getting better. I always told the owners that when he matures, we’re gonna have a nice horse.
“Well, he just turned 4 in May, and the last two races show that he’s maturing.”
Acclamation is a good-sized bay colt by Unusual Heat (a son of Nureyev) out of the Silveyville mare Winning in Style, bred at the Old English Rancho in Southern California.

The horse broke his maiden on the turf at Hollywood Park as a 2-year-old, and won on the grass at Del Mar last year. He didn’t round into top form as a 3-year-old, finishing third in the Hollywood Derby (G1), and third in the San Gabriel (G2) at Santa Anita. But he’s been getting better with each start this season, and really came into his own when the trainer stretched him out to a mile and a half in the Murray on May 15.

That was the day before his 4th birthday, and Acclamation celebrated early by drawing off to a huge lead, one he maintained to the wire, winning by seven and a half lengths.
In the Whittingham on June 5, he again took the track and was never seriously challenged as he scored by a length and a half, after a mile and a quarter in 1:59 2/5.


“Stretching him out really helped,” Warren said. “But he doesn’t have to be on the lead. He’s easily ratable.

“In fact, when I was getting him ready for this race, I trained him as if we’d be chasing Presious Passion around, and worked him a mile. He sat behind another horse, and then made a big move late. He got the last quarter in 24, and finished up in 1:39.”

The trainer is bringing in jockey Christian Santiago Reyes from California to ride Acclamation for the third straight time.

The U.N. is a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In event with the winner earning an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.



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