It happened again. Despite some unusual mid-race tactics, Kosta Hronis' Accelerate powered clear to a 2 1/2-length victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes, adding to a year in which he has won the Santa Anita Handicap, Gold Cup at Santa Anita, and Pacific Classic. Off as the 1-5 favorite, the 5-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky covered nine furlongs over Santa Anita's fast main track in 1:50.38, collecting another “Win and You're In” title ahead of the Breeders' Cup Classic. Trained by John Sadler, Accelerate was again ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, who picked up the mount when regular rider Victor Espinoza was sidelined by injury before the Pacific Classic.
“He left the gate slow, but he recovered nicely,” Rosario said. “John (Sadler) told me he is a little slow to get going, so I just made sure we got ourselves in the game right away. I just wanted to get position and my horse was going comfortably. He loves to run. He was waiting on the turn and then he took off. He's a really special horse and I'm thankful John gave me the opportunity to ride him the last two times.”
Accelerate broke a bit more slowly than he usually does, and was floated four-wide on the clubhouse turn as Rosario tried to help him move up into his preferred stalking position. On the front end, Shades of Victory held the lead through a quarter in :22.89, but the off-the-layoff West Coast was feeling fresh and took over down the backstretch to mark the half in :46.17.
Nearing the far turn, Accelerate and Isotherm both joined West Coast to stretch three across the track through three-quarters in 1:10.35. Accelerate was widest of the three, but that did not deter the very game contender from continuing to fight all the way through the wire.
At the eighth pole, Accelerate finally grabbed the lead and was able to draw off to a 2 1/2-length victory. West Coast outlasted Isotherm for the place, making a good account of himself off the six-month layoff.
“He really ran a huge race and had an incredible run,” jockey Mike Smith said of West Coast. “I couldn't ask for more out of him. He really needed that push and we forced him to move forward a little more but I think that he did well and it was good for him. He should move forward and I think forcing him a little more really helped him and it was just what he needed. Overall he did good and really gave us a great run.”
Bred in Kentucky by Mike Abraham, Accelerate is out of the Awesome Again mare Issues. He really came into his own in 2018, and has now won four consecutive Grade 1 races, albeit all in Southern California. Overall, Accelerate's record stands at 9-5-5 from 21 starts with earnings of over $2.4 million. He will have to handle shipping to Churchill Downs in order to continue his win streak through the Breeders' Cup Classic in five weeks' time.
“You're always nervous in these races,” said Sadler. “He's run so well and he's been so consistent so you always hope he stays consistent so we're very happy. Breeders' Cup is obviously next up. We'll train here at home and then go and follow Bob Baffert over there to Churchill about a week before. We'll kind of walk behind Bob (Baffert) and creep up on him.
“We're excited. We've got Catalina Cruiser working tomorrow so hopefully we'll go over there to Kentucky with a strong hand. It's a good feeling that we might go into the Classic the favorite because I like being the favorite. It has the highest probability of winning. He's a good horse, doing great and probably the best horse in the country now, clearly. We'll be ready.”
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