September 21, 2020

Accelerate thrills in Pacific Classic runaway

Accelerate has had no peers in the Southern California older horse ranks this year (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com

With a blowout victory in Saturday’s $1 million Pacific Classic (G1), Accelerate confirmed himself as the horse to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) this fall. The 2-5 favorite scored by a record 12 1/2-length margin in Del Mar’s centerpiece event and earned an expenses-paid Classic berth in the “Win & You’re In” race.

Owned by Kosta and Pete Hronis and trained by John Sadler, Accelerate added the services of Joel Rosario following an injury to regular rider Victor Espinoza and rated kindly in third before advancing to the lead on the far turn. The five-year-old dazzled through the final furlongs, drawing off spectacularly in the stretch, and completed 1 ¼ miles in 2:01.83.

It marked the fourth convincing win from five starts this season. And by virtue of tallies in the Santa Anita H. (G1) and Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), Accelerate joined Lava Man and Game on Dude as the only winners of Southern California’s three signature races for older horses in the same season.

The chestnut son of Lookin at Lucky could prep in the September 29 Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita or train straight up to the November 3 Classic at Churchill Downs.

Pavel, the 6-1 second choice in the eight-horse field, rallied to finish a clear second, 3 3/4 lengths better than 15-1 Prime Attraction. It was another 3 1/4 lengths back to pacesetter Roman Rosso, who established opening splits in :23.05  :46.69  and 1:11.25.

Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham, Accelerate was purchased for $380,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale. The seven-time stakes victor snapped Arrogate’s seven-race win streak when upsetting last year’s San Diego (G2) and has now compiled four wins on Del Mar’s main track. He’s bankrolled $2,772,480 from a 20-8-5-5 record.

PACIFIC CLASSIC QUOTES

JOEL ROSARIO (Accelerate, first) – “He’s a very nice horse. He put me in a good place and took me to the outside and we went from there.”

MARIO GUTIERREZ (Pavel, second) – “He ran good; really, really good. The winner – what can you say. He’s a good horse.”

KENT DESORMEAUX (Prime Attraction, third) – “He tried so hard to win. His heart bleeds to win.”

JOHN SADLER, (Accelerate winner) – “It was very impressive. He’s been good on this track, he’s won stakes here every year. He’s better this year so you had to figure he’d be better on this track this year. The only thing I was nervous about was Joel (Rosario). I told him ‘Ride him like he’s the best horse. Don’t let anything cheap get in front of you. Stay in contact with the leaders’. He did that so I knew (Accelerate) would kick in well.

Hronis Racing owns and Sadler trains Catalina Cruiser, an impressive winner of the San Diego earlier in the meet. Accelerate was scratched from the San Diego and entered the Pacific Classic off an 84-day layoff.

“I wanted to keep them (Accelerate and Catalina Cruiser) separated. We had the best horse and the second best horse and we wanted to use them in different races. (His personal feeling at the moment?) Just relief. I thought we had the best horse. He had a really good week. I woke up this morning refreshed. The toughest thing all day was getting into the parking lot.”

KOSTA HRONIS – “We don’t get to see a lot of five-year-old horses anymore. So this was great that he was able to stay on the track for another year and really mature and get better, and that’s what he has done. I’m so happy for John Sadler. This is his first Pacific Classic win and for this horse to be a part of it is such an honor. We’re happy for us, of course, but we’re so happy for John. He’s done so much and he’s meant so much to us. He’s more than a trainer. He’s trained the horses and he’s trained us. We had no idea about the horse racing business when we got involved in 2010. We thought we knew something. We knew nothing.

“Joel rode a great race. He’s been good all day. When we lost Victor (Espinoza) it was disheartening. I’m glad it was John’s decision. John knew what to do. He felt really comfortable going to Joel.”

(Sweeping the Big Three in California) “That’s such an honor. For him to be in a position to attempt to do that was wonderful. That he actually pulled it off is great. To be in the conversation with those great horses is a thrill for us, no doubt.”

“We love California. Santa Anita and Del Mar. We have opportunities to race out of town, but if there’s a race here. We’re going to be here.”