ARCADIA, CA – Hronis Racing’s Accelerate hit the top of the stretch with the rail wide-open in front of him and moved quickly to take command en route to winning Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking a step slow from post 3 under regular rider Victor Espinoza, the normally pace-setting Accelerate was forced to rate while a three-headed wall comprised of Mubtaahij, Top of the Game, and Irish Freedom took turns setting splits of :24.34, :48.94, and 1:12.85. Exiting the far turn, Accelerate and the favored Pavel were each loaded and vying for position behind the wall when a spot along the rail opened. Espinoza, who earlier had maneuvered Accelerate to the inside of the rail-breaking Pavel, took full advantage of the gift laying before him, accelerating his steed forward and kicking away late to win by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:50.58 for the 1 1/8-mile main track event.
“He broke a little slow and they were going slow up front,” Espinoza said. “I put him in the race and they slowed down even more into the first turn. There seemed to be plenty of room up on the lead, so I thought I’d take a shot and try to speed up the pace. I thought I could take the lead, but when (Mubtaahij) saw me try it, he completely shut me down. I bounced off the rail a couple of times.”
Longshot Prime Attraction found himself an unlikely benefactor of the early leading trio’s pace meltdown, finishing well down the stretch to take second by 2 1/2 lengths. Mubtaahij faded but held on to take third by a neck over Pavel, who spent half of the stretch run darting around in a vain attempt to find a hole through which to run. Top of the Game was fifth ahead of Irish Freedom, with The Lieutenant, Ike Walker, and Win the Space completing the order of finish.
Accelerate’s trip to the winner’s circle was his first ever at Santa Anita and improved his record to 16-5-4-5. The 5-year-old John Sadler-trained son of Lookin At Lucky, whose last win came when upsetting Arrogate in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar, increased his career earnings to $907,480.
“I think he’s one of the top handicap division horses around, so he definitely earned his keep today,” said owner Kosta Hronis. “It was an exciting race and Victor earned his pay today as well, no doubt.”
Accelerate returned $9.40 to win, $5.20 to place, and $3.20 to show. Prime Attraction brought back $12 to place and $6 to show, while Mubtaahij paid $3.60 to show.