Cal-breds Acclimate, Prince Earl take aim at Breeders’ Cup history

September 16, 2019 06:08pm
Trainer Phil D'Amato is considered by many to be the pre-eminent turf trainer in California, a reputation that was further enhanced this summer when he swept all three of the major turf races at Del Mar with different horses. Two of those victors, Del Mar Handicap (G2) winner Acclimate and Del Mar Mile (G2) winner Prince Earl, are squarely on target for the Breeders' Cup.  

D'Amato, who won the 2016 Turf Sprint with Obviously, will try and add wins in the Breeders’ Cup Turf with Acclimate and the Breeders' Cup Mile with Prince Earl. Both horses will attempt to become the first California-bred to win their respective Breeders’ Cup races. Plans are set for Prince Earl, who was returning from an 8 ½-month layoff when he sprung the 9.80-to-1 upset in the Del Mar Mile. D’Amato said Prince Earl is definite for the City of Hope (G2) at Santa Anita on Oct. 5.  As for Acclimate, his path to the championships remains in flux. D’Amato noted the Del Mar Handicap was a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf. With a spot in the main event secured, D’Amato is considering bypassing Santa Anita’s John Henry Turf Championship (G2) on Sept. 28. “We haven’t decided yet on the John Henry. We’re going to wait and see,” said D’Amato, who expects to make a decision early next week. “We’ll either run in both or, since that last race was a ‘Win and You’re In,’ just wait for the Breeders’ Cup.”  Owned by The Ellwood Johnston Trust and Timmy Time Racing, Acclimate is a 5-year-old gelding by Acclimated who Tim Henry picked up at auction for $30,000 as a yearling. He didn’t make the races until May of last year and for the next 12 months proved a serviceable allowance horse with the occasional win.  However, that all changed this summer. Noting Acclimate possessed natural early speed, D’Amato decided to take a shot and put him on the lead in the San Juan Capistrano. Acclimate hasn’t been headed since. “When this horse gets comfortable, he keeps clicking off those steady fractions,” D’Amato said. Prince Earl was well-regarded as a 3-year-old last year, but after running fourth in the Hollywood Derby (G1) he underwent minor throat surgery and was forced to the sidelines. D’Amato said he took his time with Prince Earl, and the patience paid off. He earned huge speed ratings when winning the Del Mar Mile in a time of 1:33.13. “He came back with a vengeance,” D’Amato said.  Owned by Old Bones Racing Stable and Todd Marshall, Prince Earl is a 4-year-old gelded son of Paddy O’Prado. He was plucked out of the Barretts select yearling sale for just $25,000. D’Amato said a major reason for sending Prince Earl straight  to the Del Mar Handicap off such a lengthy layoff was to impress the Breeders’ Cup selection committee. He wanted to make a statement with his lightly-raced gelding. “I don’t do that too often,” D’Amato said of running in a graded stakes off a lengthy layoff. “But he was training well and had been highly regarded as a 3-year-old. So we decided to take a big swing and maybe get him into the Breeders’ Cup. It may have worked.” Prince Earl will attempt to further solidify his Breeders’ Cup credentials in the City of Hope.


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