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ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Phil D’Amato’s Acclimate ended a 22-month losing streak with a dominating gate-to-wire victory in Saturday’s $100,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.
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Sent away from post 4 as the 2/1 favorite under Ricky Gonzalez, Acclimate sped off to a lengthy early lead while Pillar Mountain and Ward ‘n Jerry gave closest watch in the field of six older males.
Still untouched as he rounded the far turn for the second time, Acclimate’s success was never in doubt as he crossed 3 3/4 lengths much the best while completing the 1 3/4-mile firm turf marathon in 2:49.74.
“Ricky did a masterful job of maintaining the distance and setting those comfortable fractions to have enough horse left,” D’Amato said. “It’s a credit to him and the horse. To dial those fractions in the way he did, Ricky rode like a seasoned veteran at this distance.”
Despite jockey Victor Espinoza losing his whip near the 1/8 pole, Astronaut took second over defending champion Red King. Ward ‘n Jerry headed Lure Him In for fourth. An empty Pillar Mountain was eased across the wire to complete the order of finish.
Acclimate’s win was his first since the August 2019 Del Mar Handicap (G2), a victory which came 2 starts after winning that year’s San Juan Capistrano. The California-bred 7-year-old gelded son of Acclamation improved his overall record to 25-7-4-4 with $557,872 earned for co-owners The Elwood Johnson Trust, Timmy Time Racing, and Ken Tevelde.
“The San Juan Capistrano was my favorite race growing up,” D’Amato said. “I thought this was an ‘A’ performance for him today, and this is a horse that I would target for the Del Mar Handicap. He has been lightly raced. We gave him a short break and he has come back better than ever.”
Acclimate returned $6 to win, $3.80 to place, and $2.60 to show. Astronaut brought back $8.20 to place and $4.20 to show. Red King paid $2.40 to show.
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