One race remains for Breeders' Cup Classic winner Accelerate

While Saturday was about John Sadler and the end of his championships losing streak, the trainer wants Sunday’s focus on Accelerate, the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.

“Personally, it’s great for me. I’m very happy,” Sadler said. “But the message I’m trying to get out today is the great campaign he had this year.”

Accelerate wrapped up a season in which he won five Grade 1s, four of them at 1 1/4 miles, to put himself in the Horse of the Year conversation with Triple Crown winner Justify. The California-based horse became the first to win each of the Big ‘Cap, Gold Cup at Santa Anita, Pacific Classic and Awesome Again Stakes in the same season.

“He’s a deserving horse of the accolades he gets,” Sadler said. “He’s just been solid all year long. We never really ducked anyone all year. Sometimes we’ve been in a little smaller fields because I think they’re ducking us — not wanting to run against Accelerate.”

The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky isn’t done, either, as Sadler said Accelerate’s spot in the 2019 Pegasus World Cup — this time an $8 million race — was reserved even before his Classic victory.

First, Hronis Racing’s Accelerate will travel Sunday from Churchill Downs to nearby Lane’s End Farm, where he’ll be on display for potential breeders along with West Coast, another horse going to stud there next year.

“Then he’ll come back out and join me in California,” Sadler said. “We’ll have a big party and start to get ready for the Pegasus”

Sadler said it’s “highly likely” Accelerate will train up to the Pegasus, following a similar schedule as Gun Runner did for his swan song in the 2018 race.

The barn had another horse mentioned for the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus, Catalina Cruiser, but he failed as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The previously unbeaten 4-year-old by Union Rags left early Sunday and will “receive a full vetting.”

“He’s a really good horse,” Sadler said. “We don’t know what happened yesterday yet, so more to come on that. Usually it becomes apparent.”

For instance, he said, after Accelerate lost in last year’s Dirt Mile, connections discovered a quarter crack. That one healed up and then had the best campaign of his career.

In addition to Accelerate, Sadler expects to be represented by Catapult, the Breeders’ Cup Mile runner-up, in the new Pegasus World Cup Turf. The third edition of the Pegasus will split the former $16 million purse, but also halve the entry fee to $500,000 apiece for the dirt and grass races run Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park.

 

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