“I hope I can do it again,” said trainer Don Warren from his Santa Anita base Thursday as he put the final touches on Acclamation in defense of his crown in the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap Saturday at Hollywood Park.
“Everything has gone according to plan,” said Warren, happy that the 5-year-old horse has not missed a beat since winning the Jim Murray Memorial Handicap by seven lengths here for the second consecutive year May 14.
Acclamation drew the rail in a field of six under Joe Talamo in the Grade I test at 1 ¼ miles on turf. The Old English Rancho homebred seeks to join John Henry, winner of the race in 1980, ’81 and ’84, as the only horse to win it more than once.
“He proved he can win on the lead or lay second or third,” said Warren. “He’s a speed that is able to rate.’’
Acclamation, a California-bred son of Unusual Heat, hopes to continue his love affair with this turf course. He has won four of seven starts and earned $406,860 on the Hollywood Park grass. He has managed only one win in 17 starts over other surfaces. His total earnings are $608,048.
BAFFERT HOPES TO MAKE ‘POINT’ AGAIN
On the corresponding Saturday 10 years ago, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert recorded his only victory in the Belmont Stakes with Point Given.
The white-haired conditioner will be after more modest goals in the 3-year-old division this year here with two entrants in the Grade III Affirmed Handicap, one of them a son of Point Given.
“Maybe it’s an omen,” said Baffert Thursday from his Santa Anita base of Coil, who will make his stakes debut at 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track after two smart wins sprinting.
“He’s not as big as Point Given,” said Baffert in comparision with the 3-year-old champion of 2001. “He’s a pretty horse. He’s fast.”
Coil will form a formidable 1-2 punch in the $100,000 Affirmed with Awesome Patriot, winner of the Alydar Stakes in his last start and partly responsible for the purchase of Coil.
“Coil ran third to Awesome Patriot when he broke his maiden here (October 9),” said Baffert, sufficiently impressed to purchase the Glen Hill Farm colt privately for long-time clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman.
Coil drew the rail under Martin Garcia and Awesome Patriot landed the outside post in a field of six under Rafael Bejarano. “They’re both speed horses; let’s see what happens,” said Baffert.
Baffert, a two-time Affirmed winner, last won the race in 2006 with Point Determined, another son of Point Given.
Trainer Julio Canani, who entered Akkadian in the race, also has some history in his favor. Akkadian is a son of Tiznow, who won the Affirmed in 2000 and sired Golden Itiz, winner of the race last year.
Golden Itiz, sidelined since August, makes his first start back in a strong seven-furlong allowance race Friday night that also includes the likes of Supreme Summit and Matto Mondo. The field also includes Tres Borrachos, 2008 Swaps Stakes winner who has been transferred to the barn of Marty Jones since making his last start in September.
GALLAGHER HOPES HONEYMOON IS NOT OVER
Bachelor Paddy Gallagher is looking forward to another Honeymoon Saturday.
The Irish-born trainer seeks a third victory in the $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies with Entrustment. The Grade II stake will be run at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
“The owners, Edward and Theresa Denike wanted to try her on turf and sent her to me,” said Gallagher Thursday of the Forestry filly who began her career in Northern California with trainer Lloyd Mason last year.
Entrustment has responded well to turf, winning an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate Fields April 3 and rallying from sixth to finish second in the Senorita Stakes at one mile here May 7.
“She acts like she will go that far,” said Gallagher of the nine-furlong distance of the Honeymoon as Entrustment attempts to join Three Degrees in 2005 and Valbenny in 2007 as Gallagher-trained winners of the race.
Entrustment leaves from post two under Alsonso Quinonez in a field of nine.
FINISH LINES—Rafael Bejarano has taken a call on St Trinians, and Garrett Gomez will ride Blind Luck in the $250,000 Vanity Handicap June 18. The Grade I test is the meet championship for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles. Zenyatta won the race the last three years…Chilean import Ashtar and 8-year-old veteran Proudinsky each worked six furlongs on turf here Thursday for the $250,000 Grade I Shoemaker Mile July 2. Proudinsky was timed in 1:13.40 for trainer Humberto Ascanio while Ashtar was clocked in 1:15.40 for conditioner Ruben Cardenas …On the main track, Smiling Tiger worked a bullet five furlongs in 58.60 for Jeff Bonde, and American Story drilled a bullet six panels in 1:12.20 for Bob Baffert …Trainer John Sadler bade farewell Tuesday to multiple stakes winner Sidney’s Candy, who joined the Todd Pletcher stable in New York after being sold privately to WinStar Farm by Jenny Craig …Trainer Tom Proctor said that Wild Mia, winner of the Redondo Beach Stakes Sunday, may produce more fireworks in the $150,000 Grade II Royal Heroine Mile July 4. Great Lady M. Stakes winner Givine, another Royal Heroine candidate, worked three furlongs in 36.20 breezing for Julio Canani …Happy birthday wishes to trainer Myung Kwon Cho, 69 Friday…First post Saturday is 11 a.m. for an 11-race live card and the simulcast of the 143rd Belmont Stakes.
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