January 19, 2022

Say the Word delivers irresistible closing argument in Hollywood Turf Cup

Say the Word overpowers Acclimate (inside) in the Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar (© Benoit Photo)

In contrast to his luckless passage in the Aug. 21 Del Mar H. (G2), Say the Word saw nothing but daylight in the stretch as he swooped to a last-to-first verdict in Friday’s $251,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2). The Phil D’Amato trainee overtook front-running stablemate Acclimate, while 4-5 favorite Rockemperor checked in fifth.

Say the Word got a rider switch to Kent Desormeaux, and the Hall of Famer established instant rapport. Switched off early after a leisurely start, the 5.50-1 chance was content to lob along at the tail of the field.

Meanwhile, Acclimate was likewise happy in his favorite spot – on a clear lead. The Cal-bred veteran posted fractions of :23.98, :49.00, 1:13.65, 1:38.68, and 2:03.98 on the firm course before being accosted.

Award Winner, who had been second at every call, launched his bid turning for home. As the longtime stalker pounced, Acclimate responded and parried the thrust. Rockemperor had every chance to join the fray, but couldn’t quicken enough. Friar’s Road appeared to run in snatches as he improved position, paused, and advanced again late.

But Say the Word, still last upon straightening, was striking top gear. Motoring down the center of the course, the More Than Ready gelding won going away by a length in 2:27.62 for 1 1/2 miles.

Acclimate rounded out the D’Amato exacta, holding second by a neck from Friar’s Road, with the same margin back to Award Winner in fourth. Rockemperor stayed on a nose away in the blanket finish for the minors. Sixth-placer Cupid’s Claws was outkicked, and Astronaut faded to last of the septet.

Campaigned by Agave Racing Stable and breeder Sam-Son Farm, Say the Word returned $13 and improved his record to 33-7-4-5, $822,792. The Ontario-bred had competed in the 2018 Canadian classics for Sam-Son and original trainer Graham Motion, finishing sixth in the Queen’s Plate and second in the Breeders’ S. on turf.

Say the Word scored his marquee victory in the 2020 Northern Dancer Turf (G1) when trained by Gail Cox, and in the process, earned a Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion turf male. He then joined D’Amato on the Southern California circuit and rallied for third in last fall’s Hollywood Turf Cup.

His 2021 highlights include a win in the Apr. 17 Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland and seconds in the San Luis Rey (G3) and Shoemaker Mile (G1) to United and Smooth Like Strait, respectively. Say the Word telegraphed that he was full of run in the aforementioned Del Mar ’Cap, but with nowhere to go on the inside, he crossed the wire in a dead-heat for fifth.

The six-year-old is a half-brother to Canadian Grade 2 scorer Rideforthecause, who also added to her resume on this circuit by taking the June 13 Possibly Perfect S. and missing in the Santa Barbara (G3) photo. They are out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Danceforthecause, a granddaughter of Hall of Famer Dance Smartly from the superb family of Smart Strike.