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Veteran Acclimate Heads San Juan Capistrano
Acclimate winning the 2019 Del Mar Handicap (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Veteran Acclimate Heads San Juan Capistrano

ARCADIA, CA – Fresh of a big second at a mile and 1/4 on turf, trainer Phil D’Amato’s Acclimate heads a field of six going a mile and 3/4 on turf in Saturday’s $100,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.

A traditional closing day feature for decades, the iconic San Juan will be run for the 81st time on the penultimate day of Santa Anita’s 78-day Winter/Spring Meeting and will feature a traditional hillside turf start.

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A 7-year-old California-bred gelding by Acclimation, out of the Boundary mare Knows No Bounds, Acclimate opened up by 3 lengths after the first 1/2-mile in the Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2) on May 29 and ended up second, beaten a head by the David Hofmans-trained Award Winner when ridden for the first time by Ricky Gonzalez. 

Acclimate, who took the 2019 San Juan Capistrano running in gate-to-wire fashion, will be making his second appearance in the San Juan. Owned by The Ellwood Johnston Family Trust, Timmy Time Racing, LLC, and Ken Tevelde, Acclimate was bred in-part by the Johnston family’s Old English Rancho. A 2-time graded stakes winner, he is 24-6-4-4 and has earnings of $497,872.

Also meriting major consideration are fellow California-bred gelding Ward ’n Jerry, a recent winner of 2 starter allowance marathons on turf, and Red King, a runaway winner of last year’s San Juan Capistrano who most recently finished a 1/2-length behind the top selection in the Whittingham. 

Head and head for the early lead in last year’s San Juan, Ward ’n Jerry ended up third, beaten 5 lengths by Red King. An 8-year-old gelding by Lucky Pulpit, Ward ‘n Jerry appears on edge for trainer Mike Puype, as he rallied for a sharp head victory in a mile and 1/4 starter allowance on February 20 and stretched out to a 1/2-length score in a mile and 1/2 turf starter allowance March 20.

Owned and bred in California by Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, Ward ’n Jerry, who is out of the Dehere mare Tamarack Bay, will be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by leading man Flavien Prat and will no doubt take some beating on Saturday. With an overall mark of 27-8-2-4, he has earnings of $468,259.

A 4 1/4-length winner of last year’s San Juan and a close third in the 2019 running, Red King, who got the jump on highly accomplished United in taking the Del Mar Handicap (G2) 5 starts back on August 22, has plenty of class and the return services of regular rider Umberto Rispoli. A 7-year-old full horse by English Channel, Red King would relish a fast pace as he seeks his second San Juan win in what will be his third appearance.

Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Gordon Jacobsen, and Phillip Belmonte, Red King, who is 32-7-4-9 with earnings of $471,755, is trained by meet leader Phil D’Amato, who holds a 46-42 edge over Peter Miller with 3 days remaining.

  1. Lure Him In – Edwin Maldonado – 122
  2. Red King – Umberto Rispoli – 124
  3. Ward ‘n Jerry – Flavien Prat – 122
  4. Acclimate – Ricardo Gonzalez – 122
  5. Pillar Mountain – Joe Bravo – 122
  6. Astronaut – Victor Espinoza – 122  

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