John Sadler made a short stop at Gulfstream about 6 a.m. to see his champion Accelerate before the trainer had to head to the airport, also heading back to California. Sadler had Accelerate jog on the pavement, pronounced the 6-year-old horse in good shape and gave him a final pat on the neck.
“It's like sending your kid off to college…. We'll see him in Kentucky, so it's not like he's going far,” he said of Accelerate's new home of Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky. “Hopefully we'll be back there and see him soon.”
Accelerate crafted an Eclipse Award-winning career as champion older male by settling into a stalking position early in a race, taking command on the far turn or into the stretch and drawing off to victory. That worked in his length victory in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) over Gunnevera, who finished sixth in the Pegasus. But with overnight and daylong showers creating a sloppy track that was sealed, speed was dominant throughout the day.
“It just wasn't our day, the way things were coming up,” Sadler said. “You have to kind of rush him to even be in the race. It just wasn't a great setup for him. I thought we'd get some rain. I don't think anybody was predicting we'd get that much rain. I was drenched when I got home.”
Jockey Joel Rosario made a short-lived attempt to go after City of Light with a quarter of a mile to go. That effort could have cost Accelerate second, with Seeking the Soul full of steam while rallying from last to be the runner-up.
“You know you can't let that horse slip away. He was riding to win, no doubt,” Sadler said of Rosario. “But credit to the winner. He ran a really good race. (Accelerate) is honest and always runs well. He ran a good race, but probably with different conditions, he's going to run a little better.”
The son of Lookin At Lucky concludes his career with a 10-5-6 record out of 23 starts, earning $6,692,480. Accelerate also goes down in the record books as the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), the Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita (formerly the Hollywood Gold Cup), Del Mar's Pacific Classic (G1) and Santa Anita's Awesome Again (G1) and the Breeders' Cup Classic.
“The nice thing is, he's sound this morning, he looks good. You feel good about sending him home. He's had a great campaign, championship year and off he'll go to his next career,” Sadler said.
“He's been a nice horse all along, really good at 3, 4 and 5. For him to have such a historic year last year, to (sweep) those historic races (in California). There's only been a couple of them. So he's a great horse, and we love him to death,” he added. “I'm looking forward to seeing some of his babies.”
Sadler also finished fourth with Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Catapult in the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). Catapult had the lead after three-quarters of a mile but weakened to fourth as Bricks and Mortar won the 1 3/16-mile race by 2 1/2 lengths over Ireland's Magic Wand.
Sadler said Catapult came out of the race well but did experience a little bit of pulmonary hemorrhaging, known as bleeding. “So we'll go home, give him a little rest in California and regroup,” he said. “Probably take him back in distance to a mile.”
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