INGLEWOOD, Calif. (May 15, 2010)-No better than third in five previous starts in 2010, Acclamation, a 14-1 longshot, opened a long lead early and continued strong to the wire in a record setting victory in the $150,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap on Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Ridden by Christian Santiago Reyes, the 2009 Eclipse Award winning apprentice who will ride with the weight allowance for the last time on Sunday, Acclamation was unchallenged in the Grade II, becoming the first California bred to win the race honoring the Pulitzer Prize winning sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
Acclamation was one of four double digit winners in the second half of the card, so there will be a Pick Six carryover of $85,741 when racing resumes Sunday.
Owned by breeders Buddy and Judy Johnston and trained by Don Warren, Acclamation, a 4-year-old Unusual Heat colt and the Silveyville mare Winning In Style, won for the third time in 18 starts. He increased his earnings to $347,048.
Running the 1 ½ miles on turf in 2:26.59, Acclamation, who returned $31, $12.40 and $6.80, won by 7 ½ lengths over 7-2 second choice Falcon Rock, who paid $5.60 and $3.60. The show price on 4-1 shot Rendezvous was $3.60. Rendezvous finished a neck in front of 2-1 favorite Scintillo.
Making his first start in the United States for trainer Neil Drysdale, Scintillo was pulled up on the backstretch by Rafael Bejarano. The meet’s leading rider reported some concern after the finish about the 5-year-old’s hind end.
The margin of victory was the largest in the history of the Murray, which was run for the 20th time Saturday. The previous best was seven lengths by Bienamado in 2000.
“I wasn’t planning on going to the front, but everybody took back so I just inherited the lead,’’ said Santiago Reyes, speaking through an interpreter after his first graded stakes victory. “I had never been on him before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. At the half-mile pole, I still had not let him run, he was just galloping along.’’
In winning for the second time in five tries on the Hollywood Park grass – he was third in one of his defeats when 75-1 in the Hollywood Derby last Nov. 29 – Accalamation lived up to the promise his connections had for him.
“We were sure hoping he would run like this at this distance,’’ said Warren. “He’s out of a Silveyville mare and Silveyville could run all day on the front end. We felt that when the time was right and he got a little more maturity, we were going to make him a mile and a quarter horse. You have to work up to it.’’
Fourth in the Inglewood Handicap on April 25, Acclamation had a five length lead after a 24.81 opening quarter, extended the advantage to eight through a 49.43 half mile, was 10 lengths in front after a mile in 1:39.34 and five ahead after 10 furlongs in 203.11. Despite drifting out, he increased the lead while running his final quarter mile in about 23 2/5 seconds.
Santiago Reyes, whose only previous stakes win had come aboard Bench The Judge in the $100,000 Bob Benoit California Cup Juvenile last Oct. 3 during the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita, had two other victories Saturday. The 20-year-old native of San Juan, Puerto Rico also won the sixth with Midnight Rage ($8.20) and ninth with Downhill Diva ($22.60).
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