After a disappointing effort from odds-on favorite Catalina Cruiser in the Dirt Mile (G1) and a loss in the final strides by Catapult in the Mile (G1) earlier Saturday, trainer John Sadler finally got the monkey off his back and ended a 0-for-44 streak at the Breeders’ Cup when stable star Accelerate proved best in the $5,358,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs.
“It’s about the horse, it’s not just about me,” Sadler said.
The Classic capped a tremendous season for the five-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky, who cemented champion older male honors and put himself in the Horse of the Year discussion alongside retired Triple Crown winner Justify.
Accelerate previously captured the San Pasqual (G2), Santa Anita H. (G1), Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), Pacific Classic (G1), and Awesome Again (G1). His only loss during the season was by a neck to City of Light, Saturday’s Dirt Mile winner, in the Oaklawn H. (G2). He returned the favor in the Gold Cup, beating City of Light by 5 1/2 lengths.
The 5-2 favorite in the Classic under Joel Rosario, Accelerate broke from post 14 in the in 1 1/4-mile heat. He established favorable early position entering the clubhouse turn, rating in fifth, though wide. Up front, Mendelssohn set fractions of :22.68, :46.46, 1:10.61, with the Bob Baffert trainees McKinzie and West Coast, as well as Thunder Snow, in close attendance.
Around the far turn, Accelerate made a four-wide bid into contention. Seizing control in upper stretch and turning back a mild bid from Thunder Snow, Accelerate maintained a one-length lead to the wire as 30-1 chance Gunnevera rallied for second.
“I was very confident in the backside when I got to the leader, when it cleared, and I can feel that he was getting nicely comfortable and it looked like he wanted to do that, and then I just — after that, I took the lead, and then I just had to keep after him because he’s the kind of horse, like I say, that he wants you to ride him, and then he give it to you,” Rosario said.
Owned by Kosta Hronis, Accelerate paid $7.40 after covering the distance in 2:02.93. Gunnevera had three quarters of a length on Thunder Snow, with Yoshida a rallying fourth. The order of finish was completed by Mendelssohn, Lone Sailor, West Coast, Discreet Lover, Axelrod, Pavel, Mind Your Biscuits, McKinzie, Catholic Boy, and Roaring Lion.
“We have an option to run him in the Pegasus,” Sadler said. “The plan right now is he’ll probably go up to Lane’s End Farm in Lexington tomorrow, and they’ll show him there as a stallion this week, we’ll bring him back to California, and if all is good, will probably go in the Pegasus, kind of our all-out Gun Runner of last year, and then he’ll go off to stud.”
Previously the winner of the 2016 Los Alamitos Derby (G2) and Shared Belief, and the 2017 San Diego H. (G2) in an upset over Arrogate, Accelerate has now earned $5,792,480 from a line of 22-10-5-5.
Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham, Accelerate is out of Issues, by Awesome Again, who has also reared stakes winners Daddy D T and Amarish.