ARCADIA, CA – Hronis Racing’s Accelerate finally broke through for his first career victory at the classic distance of 10 furlongs, and with it came his first-ever Grade 1 score, in Saturday’s $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino.
After breaking sharply as the slight 5/2 favorite under regular rider Victor Espinoza, Accelerate stalked a length behind the early leader Mubtaahij through splits of :23.49, :47.99, and 1:12.32. Taking command leaving the far turn, Accelerate drew off to win convincingly by 5 1/2 lengths in a final time of 2:01.83 for the event of a main track rated wet fast (sealed).
“With the rain and everything, and the way the track was playing, it kind of changed my gameplan a little bit,” Espinoza said. “The last mile and a 1/4 (the Grade 1 Pacific Classic) was tough for him, which I thought would be the case before the race, but he handled it really well, actually. I bounced out of the gate and wanted to get right into the race, but he’s still not quick enough to get me into a good position. We were lucky that horse to our outside, Mubtaahij, broke in front of us and a bit to his outside, so we were able to move out and just start tracking.”
Mubtaahij faded in the stretch but was still clear of Fear the Cowboy by 7 lengths. Giant Expectations ran fourth, which might have disappointed his connections, who chose to run him here, rather than in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Stakes. Top of the Game, Prime Attraction, and Curlin Road completed the order of finish.
Accelerate’s win improved his record to 17-6-4-5 with career earnings of $1,262,480. Last out, the 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky won the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes, the local prep for the Big ‘Cap that’s run at 9 furlongs.
“He’s had some big races,” said trainer John Sadler. “He beat Arrogate twice last year, so for him to win a Grade 1 here at Santa Anita at a mile and 1/4 is huge. We passed up the Pegasus and Dubai to run here at home. … For me, it’s as good as it gets, being a California guy. I’m a little suspect that he’s a mile and a 1/4 horse, but mud will make them go further if they’re handling the track. He got a track he could handle, obviously, so the (distance) wasn’t a problem today.”
Accelerate returned $7 to win, $3.80 to place, and $2.20 to show. Mubtaahij brought back $4.20 to place and $3.20 to show, while Fear the Cowboy paid $2.80 to show.