DEL MAR, CA – Hronis Racing’s Accelerate repaid all supporters that made him the prohibitive 2/5 favorite on Saturday when he cruised to a double-digit-length triumph in the Grade 1, $1,000,000 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar.
The Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Accelerate receiving an automatic berth in the Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking smartly from post 5 under east coast-based rider Joel Rosario, Accelerate was content to run three-wide as Roman Rosso set the pace along the rail, while Prime Attraction sat sandwiched between them. Together, the trio raced within a length of each other through quick opening splits of :23.05, :46.69, and 1:11.25, but heading into the far turn, Accelerate pushed forward and secured the top spot. Separating himself from the field with the greatest of ease, Accelerate turned for home and lived up to his name, drawing off so strongly that the cameraman couldn’t keep any others in frame. He hit the wire 12 1/2 lengths ahead, a new race record that was 4 lengths better than Game On Dude’s margin in the 2013 running. Accelerate’s final time for the 1 1/4-mile main track event was 2:01.83 and gave trainer John Sadler his first Pacific Classic triumph in 12 tries.
“He’s a very nice horse,” said Rosario, who also won this event in 2012 aboard Dullahan. “He put me in a good place and took me to the outside and we went from there.”
Pavel, himself already qualified for the Classic after his win in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 16, finished second by 3 3/4 lengths. Prime Attraction beat Roman Rosso by 3 1/4 lengths, while Dr. Dorr nosed The Lieutenant for fifth – which was the slim difference between $20,000 and $345 in prize money. Two Thirty Five was never a factor and completed the order of finish, while Beach View was scratched.
Accelerate’s win was his fourth in five 2018 starts and improved his record to 20-8-5-5 with earnings of $2,312,480. The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky became the third horse in history to sweep the “Big Three” California-based Grade 1 events for older horses, which includes his scores in the Santa Anita Handicap and the Gold Cup at Santa Anita.
“It was very impressive,” said Sadler, who finished third in the 2017 version with Accelerate. “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. 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.”
Sadler finds himself gifted with two monsters in the older male division. Catalina Cruiser was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap last month, which Accelerate took last year. As of now, Sadler plans to send Accelerate to the Classic and Catalina Cruiser to the Las Vegas Dirt Mile on Breeders’ Cup weekend.
“I wanted to keep them (Accelerate and Catalina Cruiser) separated,” Sadler said. “We had the best horse and the second-best horse and we wanted to use them in different races.”
Accelerate returned $2.80 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. Pavel brought back $4.20 to place and $3.40 to show, while Prime Attraction paid $4.20 to show.