Hronis Racing LLC’s Accelerate finished second in last year’s San Pasqual Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park while making his seasonal debut, and on Saturday went one better in the 2018 edition of the $201,380 San Pasqual to record a 1 3/4-length victory under jockey Victor Espinoza.
Trained by John Sadler, the chestnut saved ground down on the rail as Mubtaahij set the pace while pressed by Top of the Game to his outside. Accelerate tried to get through on the backstretch, but was forced to take back sharply when the hole closed up on him.
Espinoza settled Accelerate behind the front-running duo, who were joined by Irish Freedom on the outside. Pavel and Prime Attraction were running to Accelerate’s outside, keeping the five-year-old hemmed in on the rail nearing the final turn.
Prime Attraction moved up to run in tandem with Mubtaahij, Top of the Game and Irish Freedom rounding the final turn, but Mubtaahij drifted off the inside entering the lane. Accelerate took full advantage of the opening, bursting through on the rail and motoring home to be 1 3/4 lengths clear on the wire.
Prime Attraction proved best-of-the-rest, 2 1/2 lengths in front of Mubtaahij on the line. Pavel was just a neck behind in fourth after suffering a horrible trip in the lane. Top of the Game, Irish Freedom, The Lieutenant, Ike Walker and Win the Space completed the order of finish.
Accelerate paid $9.40 for the win as the 7-2 third choice in the nine-strong field. The consistent son of Lookin at Lucky has racked up $907,480 in lifetime earnings to go along with a 16-5-4-5 career mark. In addition to the San Pasqual, he boasts wins in last year’s San Diego Handicap (G2) and the 2016 editions of the Los Alamitos Derby (G2) and Shared Belief Stakes.
Accelerate has also placed in a number of black-type contests, including two editions of the San Antonio Stakes (G2) which were both run in 2017, last season’s Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) and Precisionist Stakes (G3), and the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham, Accelerate is out of the stakes-placed Awesome Again mare Issues and counts as half-brothers Grade 1-placed stakes scorer Daddy D T and Grade 3-placed stakes winner Amarish. This female family also boasts Grade 1 hero and successful sire Wagon Limit, and 1979 Broodmare of the Year Smartaire.
SAN PASQUAL QUOTES
Victor Espinoza, jockey Accelerate, winner
“He broke a little slow and they were going slow up front. I put him in the race and they slowed down even more into the first turn. There seemed to be plenty of room up on the lead so I thought I’d take a shot and try to speed up the pace. I thought I could take the lead but when (jockey) Drayden (Van Dyke on Mubtaahij on the lead at the rail) saw me try it, he completely shut me down. I bounced off the rail a couple of times.
“I took my time, tried a different technique and just waited until the end.”
Juan Leyva, assistant trainer Accelerate, winner
“He got bumped around a little bit but this horse showed a lot of guts today. He’s obviously a really nice horse and he showed it today. We don’t really tell (jockey) Victor (Espinoza) anything; he knows how to ride.”
Kosta Hronis, co-owner Accelerate, winner
“I think he’s one of the top handicap division horses around so he definitely earned his keep today. It was an exciting race and (jockey) Victor (Espinoza) earned his pay today as well, no doubt.
“I’m always a little concerned, a little worried. There are nine horses in the race, so I hoped we would break well and that didn’t happen. Then, I thought we’d get the lead on the backside and obviously that didn’t work so we went to plan ‘C.’ So, Victor made it all work out.”