LOUISVILLE, KY – Hronis Racing’s Accelerate conquered the best that the world sent him on Saturday, grinding out the biggest win of his career in the Grade 1, $6,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
Breaking cleanly from the far outside 14 post under Joel Rosario as the 5/2 favorite, Accelerate hustled during his initial front stretch pass and successfully secured a clean running position heading into the first turn. Meanwhile, Mendelssohn raced a length ahead of fellow 3-year-old McKinzie through fast opening fractions of :22.68, :46.46, and 1:10.61. Ranging up close as he ran down the backstretch, Accelerate commenced a strong four-wide bid heading into the far turn and emerged onto the front stretch at the pacesetter’s throat latch. Breaking free up front for a moment, Accelerate was soon met with a challenge from Thunder Snow to his inside, but the John Sadler trainee repelled his foe with a flourish. Clearing away once more, Accelerate continued on strongly through to the wire, crossing with a length advantage in a final time of 2:02.93 for the 10-furlong event over the fast main track.
“That was about as good as it gets,” said Rosario, who has now ridden Accelerate to three straight scores. “That horse is simply unbelievable. I’m so happy for the owners and for John. It was a great performance. He has so much heart.”
Longshot Gunnevera was the epitome of a grinder in the stretch, rallying from ninth to second while splitting between several foes with every step. Thunder Snow’s failed attempt landed him in third, just nosing out Yoshida. Mendelssohn gave way in the stretch and crossed fifth ahead of Lone Sailor, while West Coast headed Discreet Lover for seventh. Axelrod took ninth over Pavel, but it was almost 22 lengths back to the remainder of the field. Mind Your Biscuits‘ penultimate race before retiring to stud did not go well at all, and the Chad Summers trainee never fired after spending much of the race running five-wide or greater. Catholic Boy, who ultimately went off at 5/1 odds after contending for favoritism up until post time, also never fired and was eased late. Roaring Lion, one of Europe’s most talented turf runners this year, seemed to hit a wall nearing the far turn and completely stopped running in the far turn, finally crossing over 60 lengths behind the victor.
Collected and Toast of New York were scratched as Also Eligibles.
Accelerate’s win was his sixth in 2018, all in graded stakes events, and improved his overall record to 22-10-5-5 with earnings of $5,792,480. The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky will be retired to stud next year at Lane’s End following a potential start in January’s Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup.
“He ran a great race and Joel rode him perfectly,” said Sadler, whose victory was his first in a Breeders’ Cup event and whose much-maligned record was one of the major stories heading into the weekend. “We were really thrilled. He did such a good job, kept him clear.
“I’m thrilled, no doubt,” Sadler continued. “I mean, this is what I do every day, every year, for my whole career, so to really get the big one, I couldn’t ask for a better day.”
Accelerate returned $7.40 to win, $6 to place, and $4.40 to show. Gunnevera brought back $21.80 to place and $11.80 to show, while Thunder Snow paid $8 to show.