Hold off the Kentucky Derby fever for Acceptance, a 3-year-old colt who had won all three of his races by impressive margins before Saturday's $250,000 California Cup Derby at Santa Anita.
Acceptance was sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race, but it was 11-1 Mischief Clem under jockey Kent Desormeaux rallying along the rail to win the race by a head over Pulmarack. Kluszeweski finished third and Acceptance was fourth.
"The horse has a ton of heart," trainer Bob Hess Jr. said of Mischief Clem. "I questioned his ability to go this far. I think he came through today, and I think more than anything, this is his home track. He loves it here."
As for Acceptance's fourth-place finish after taking the lead soon after the start, assistant trainer Kenny Black said, "He just hung it up for some reason. I'm sure we'll find out tomorrow. Right now I'm a little bit mystified, because he had everything his own way. He got a little hot going to the gate, so that's a little concerning."
Upsets were plentiful on Sunshine Millions/California Cup Derby day that featured five stakes races for California-bred horses.
Singing Kitty, at odds of 7-1, won the $200,000 California Cup Oaks at a mile under jockey Aaron Gryder. Heat The Rocks was second and Light One was third.
Jockey Gary Stevens rallied Go West Marie, at odds of 5-1, to win the $150,000 Filly and Mare Turf Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs. Home Journey was second and More Complexity finished third.
Spirit Rules, at odds of 12-1 under jockey Iggy Puglisi, won the $150,000 California Cup Sprint at six furlongs. San Onofre, the 3-5 favorite, was second and Follini was third.
In the $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic, Alert Bay won his fifth consecutive race, surviving an inquiry to win the 1 1/8-mile race under jockey Tyler Baze. Boozer was second and Patriots Rule third.