Hilvers, Johnston, Johnston, et al’s Acclamation emerged from his Friday workout “fine,” according to trainer Don Warren and will enter Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at 1 1-4 miles on turf. The 6-year-old will be going for his third straight Whittingham victory.
“He jogged great the last couple of mornings,” said Warren, who returned to his barn six days ago following hospitalization for a serious septic infection. “It looks like he’s out of the woods.”
Acclamation, last year’s champion older male, had his training interrupted briefly on two occasions when he took a couple of awkward steps. After extensive testing, no physical problem was found and the California-bred son of Unusual Heat quickly resumed his morning activities. He worked a mile on Cushion Track in 1:38 2/5 May 25th and the same distance a week later in :1:41 1/5 breezing. Pat Valenzuela was aboard for both drills and is expected to ride in the Whittingham. Warren said Valenzuela, who has missed some time due to weight issues, arrived early for the work and “looked great.”
“That last work was a little slower than I wanted,” said Warren. The rider on (workmate) Norvsky screwed it up by going too slow.” The trainer added, however, that the pair finished strongly. “I’m leaning toward running Norvsky in the Whittingham, as well. Right now, it looks like we’ll ship the day of the race.”
Meanwhile, in other Whittingham developments, multiple graded stakes winner Bourbon Bay was expected to provide Acclamation with his main challenge, but is now doubtful, according to Neil Drysdale. “I was going to run him,” said Drysdale, “but he came up with a foot problem this morning, so right now I don’t think he’ll go.” Drysdale added that Omayad is a possibility for the race, but he’s leaning toward sending the Chilean bred to New York for the Grade I Manhattan Handicap June 9th. Alexis Barba said Make Music for Me is probable.
CALIFORNIA BREEDER LOVINGIER SWEEPS TRIFECTA
Terry C. Lovingier, who has a large breeding operation in Northern San Diego County, has been around the game for years, but accomplished something he had never done before when three 2-year-olds he bred finished first, second and third in Saturday’s sixth race at Betfair Hollywood Park. The 10-horse field was a maiden special weight for California bred fillies.
“I’ve had a couple in there before, but it’s the first time I’ve run one-two-three,” said Lovingier, whose ranch houses between 80 and 150 at a time, with about 60 active mares.
Each of the trio has a different trainer. Akiss Forarose (Gary Sherlock), ridden
by Jose Valdivia, Jr., won the race by a nose and returned $51.20. Ella Bea Awesome (Doug O’Neill), with Kevin Krigger, was second, while Gambler’s Beauty (Walter Solis), ridden by Martin Pedroza, finished third. Lovingier is co-owner of Akiss Forarose and Gambler’s Beauty. The $1 trifecta returned $557.00.
Lovingier told a touching story about how Akiss Forarose was named. “My mom passed away a couple of years ago and she had this big rose garden. When she got to where she couldn’t get around, she’d tell me ‘go cut me a rose and I’ll give you a kiss.’ That’s where the name came from. It’s too bad she wasn’t here to see her win. She loved horse racing.”
Currently, Lovingier’s most prominent runner is Grade I winner Willa B. Awesome, set to make her next start in the Grade II, $150,000 Hollywood Oaks June 23rd.
SHOW ME THE MONEY CONTESTANTS PLAY MUSICAL CHAIRS IN CALIFORNIAN
Going into Saturday’s card, there were six contestants remaining in Betfair Hollywood Park’s Show Me the Money Contest, where the object is to select one horse each day to finish third or better.
Four of the six decided to make their selections in the 8th race, the Californian. What makes this interesting is that each of the four selected a different runner in the four-horse field, effectively making the race a game of musical chairs. When the race was over, the person who chose Morning Line, the last place finisher, was eliminated. There are now five contestants remaining.
The winner-take-all contest continues until a single participant is left standing. Prize money is $3,000 plus a two-night VIP stay at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas.
CLOSING STRIDES— Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol was a backstretch visitor Saturday evening. The basketball star was here to see Siempre Mio, whom Gasol purchased at a charity auction in a partnership that includes teammate Kobe Bryant. Gasol brought along carrots for the 4-year-old gelding, who is trained by Doug O’Neill ….. Patrick Valenzuela is scheduled to meet with the Board of Stewards Sunday morning for clearance to resume riding. “The Stewards just want to see him to talk about his weight,” said agent Tom Knust. “It’s not a hearing or anything like that. He’ll be able to ride next weekend at 121 or 122. His goal is to be 118 by Del Mar. I’m taking calls for Saturday. We won’t be riding Thursday or Friday.”…….Game On Dude, easy winner in Saturday’s Californian, came back well and “ate up good”, according to Bob Baffert’s assistant Mike Marlow. Baffert indicated after the race that the Awesome Again gelding would be pointed for the Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 7th. John Sadler informs that second-place finisher Kettle Corn returned in good shape and also would be aimed for the Gold Cup. John Shirreffs, trainer of Morning Line, who checked in last, suggested he would be inclined to “throw out” the bad effort. “He came back with some mucus,” the trainer said. “That was more of an issue than anything that happened in the post parade.” Shirreffs said he didn’t believe the problem is serious and expects the son of Tiznow to be ready for the Gold Cup.”……..Through 24 days of the 50-day meeting, favorites are faring better on Cushion Track (35 per cent) than turf (25 per cent). The overall percentage for winning favorites is 32 per cent.
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