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Accelerate makes himself favorite for Breeders’ Cup Classic with record win in Pacific Classic at Del Mar

Accelerate, with jockey Joel Rosario, crosses the finish line to win the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Accelerate made himself the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday with a dominating 12½-length win, a record for the Pacific Classic. It was his third Grade 1 win this year, all coming in Southern California.

In fact, 19 of his 20 starts have come in Southern California. His only start outside the state was a second in the Oaklawn Handicap this year in Arkansas. The problem with all of this is the Breeders’ Cup is at Churchill Downs in Louisville this year.

Is it a problem taking Accelerate out of state? No, said those closest to him.

“When we took him to Oaklawn, he traveled really well,” said Kosta Hronis, who along with his brother Pete owns the horse.

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Trainer John Sadler, who won his first Pacific Classic in 12 tries, was even more confident.

“The Santa Anita horses run well at Churchill and the thing we [feel good about] going to go back there in November … is that he won the Big ‘Cap on a muddy track,” Sadler said. “So, I think in November at Churchill you’ve got about a 50-50 chance of getting weather. So, I think the fact he handles an off track so good, I’m not worried about that.”

There was nothing to worry about Saturday. Accelerate positioned himself on the outside of Roman Rosso and Prime Attraction around the first turn. He moved even down the backstretch and then jockey Joel Rosario asked him just slightly and he went to the lead.

Entering the stretch he was up by eight lengths. Rosario went to the whip four times, mostly because Accelerate can become a bit lazy if not pushed. So, that’s what Rosario did as a crowd of 20,823 rose to its feet in celebration.

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It was Rosario’s first time on the horse and he is likely committed for any other races as long as regular rider Victor Espinoza is out because of a broken vertebrae.

Accelerate also set a record for the lowest win price by any horse. He paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10. Pavel was second, followed by Prime Attraction, Roman Rosso, Dr. Dorr, The Lieutenant and Two Thirty Five.

Beach View was scratched when he developed a cut above his right front hoof.

Providing Accelerate comes out of the race in good shape, the Awesome Again Stakes on Sept. 29 at Santa Anita is up next.

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“Since we skipped the San Diego [Handicap] that was our plan,” Hronis said. “We were planning on skipping one or the other since he’d already run four races this year. We wanted him to be on the fresh side. What we thought was best for the team was run Catalina [Cruiser] in the San Diego, [then] go ahead and give Accelerate his break now. I think he’s better a little busy, so I think that’s a better schedule for him.”

The track set a record for single-day handle, except for the Breeders’ Cup, when $25,969,128 was bet nationwide on the 11-race card.

Saturday’s race did not have the star power of past years when California Chrome, Beholder and Shared Belief won in the 1¼-mile race. Last year super horse Arrogate ran in the race but finished second.

After Saturday’s record-breaking race, Accelerate has earned a spot beside those stars of the past.

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Other stakes

Fashion Business won the Grade 2 $250,000 Del Mar Handicap with a brilliant move by jockey Flavien Prat, who passed eight horses in less than 1/16th of a mile on the backstretch. He rode the horse to the front and stayed there to win the 1 3/8-mile turf race by 5½ lengths.

Prat is serving a three-day suspension but, as with all jockey suspensions, he could ride in designated races, which are usually stakes races. He rode in all three Saturday. If you ride in more than one in a day, a day is added to the end of the suspension.

Fashion Business, trained by Phil D’Amato, paid $10.20, $5.80 and $4.20. Ya Gotta Wanna, at 45-1, was second and Multiplier was third.

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Fatale Bere made a strong move through the stretch to catch Ollie’s Candy and win the Grade 1 $300,000 Del Mar Oaks. It was a 1 1/8-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies.

Fatale Bere, trained by Leonard Powell and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, paid $16.00, $6.80 and $5.20. Californiagoldrush was third.


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