Accelerate gets it done in Awesome Again
Courtesy of Jay Privman of DRF.com
ARCADIA, Calif. – Just how much better Accelerate is this year than last has been exemplified by his now being able to handle 1 1/4 miles, something he has done three times already and will attempt anew in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
But on Saturday at Santa Anita, he showed just how far he has come at age 5, because often in the past, like in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, if things did not go his way, he chucked it, and though things did not go his way on Saturday in the Grade 1 Awesome Again, he won anyway.
Accelerate ($2.60) was jumpy in the gate before the start, broke awkwardly, was last of six runners coming under the wire the first time of the 1 1/8-mile race, and was packed wide into the first turn. Despite that, he made a sharp middle move to enter contention, then grinded out a victory in the $300,000 race, his final prep toward the Classic in five weeks at Churchill Downs.
Accelerate beat West Coast by 2 1/4 lengths, but with Isotherm just a half-length farther back in third, a final time of 1:50.38 on the fast main track, and a final three furlongs in 40.03 seconds, this was not an aesthetically pleasing race, and the figure likely will be well off Accelerate’s best. But Accelerate still prevailed, and both he and West Coast – who had not run in six months – both figure to be the better for the run.
“He overcame a lot of adversity,” said John Sadler, who trains Accelerate for Kosta and Pete Hronis. “Probably a really wide trip. They were all trying to pack him out on the first turn. He overcame all that.”
The longshot Shades of Victory led early, with West Coast right on his heels. West Coast, fresh off the bench, pulled his way to the lead through a lively half in 46.17 seconds, and six furlongs in 1:10.35. With three furlongs to run, Accelerate, under Joel Rosario, had advanced to third while outside both West Coast and Isotherm.
“I like that he kept him in the clear,” Sadler said.
Accelerate hit the front just outside the furlong pole and steadily inched clear.
Sadler blamed himself for the way Accelerate behaved in the gate.
“He wasn’t good in the gate. He missed the break. That’s my fault,” Sadler said. “I should have stood him in the gate more.”
Sadler said gate schooling will be among the finishing touches put on Accelerate prior to the Breeders’ Cup. Sadler said Accelerate would have all his serious workouts at Santa Anita before going to Churchill Downs about one week out from the Breeders’ Cup.
“We’ll train here and follow Bob Baffert to Churchill Downs,” Sadler said. “Walk behind him and creep up on him.”
Baffert trains West Coast, and both he and jockey Mike Smith thought West Coast needed the race.
“He should improve,” Smith said. “I had to give him a breather. He came on again.”
Baffert said, “At least now I’ve got a chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a race under his belt.”
With Discreet Lover pulling off a major upset Saturday in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, Accelerate looks to be the current favorite for the Classic.
“It’s a good feeling,” Sadler said. “I like having the favorite. He’s doing great. Probably the best horse in the country. We’ll be ready. He’s not squeezed too dry.”
The Awesome Again was a a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Classic, but Accelerate had already earned himself a fees-paid BC berth courtesy of his Pacific Classic victory on Aug. 18.
Accelerate, 5, is a son of Lookin At Lucky. He has won 5 times in 6 starts this year, his lone loss a second-place finish behind City of Light in the Oaklawn Handicap. He has now won 9 times in 21 starts, and he has earned just shy of $2.5 million.
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