Ac­cel­er­ate wins Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic at Churchill Downs

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

EVEN if he isn’t rec­og­nized as this year’s top thor­ough­bred, Ac­cel­er­ate all but as­sured his place as North Amer­ica’s best older horse. His sig­na­ture win in the Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic should so­lid­ify his cre­den­tials for mul­ti­ple honors.

Ac­cel­er­ate took the lead at the top of the stretch and held off Gun­n­ev­era to win the $6 mil­lion Clas­sic by a length Satur­day, strength­en­ing his bid for Horse of the Year over Triple Crown win­ner Jus­tify.

The race lacked the re­tired 3-yearold star and left a wide-open field, which the 5-year-old chest­nut horse even­tu­ally over­took af­ter break­ing from the No. 14 post as the fa­vorite. Ac­cel­er­ate made a sweep­ing move in the far turn and was in charge at the top of the stretch, then held off Gun­n­ev­era for his fifth con­sec­u­tive Grade 1 vic­tory and sixth of seven over­all this year.

That gave trainer John Sadler his first Breed­ers’ Cup win since his ini­tial starter 30 years ago.

As for the Cal­i­for­nia-based Ac­cel­er­ate be­ing named this year’s top thor­ough­bred, Sadler said he’d leave that up to me­dia who vote on the Eclipse Awards. He noted his own bias, though.

“To me, he’s the Horse of the Year, no doubt,” Sadler said. “He’s won all those great races. To win the Santa Anita Hand­i­cap (in March) was for me prob­a­bly one or two on my bucket list.

“The Clas­sic is a newer race but a great race, and he won that so smash­ingly. He’s just a great horse and had a great year.”

Rid­den by Joel Rosario, Ac­cel­er­ate covered 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.93 and paid $7.40, $6 and $4.40.

“He broke re­ally well,” Rosario said of Ac­cel­er­ate. “I was on the out­side and had to use him a lit­tle bit. I just wanted to get a po­si­tion be­cause I was way out there. I know I had a long run to the turn but I wanted to be not too wide.

“When I got to the back­side I tried to be in the clear, which is what he likes to do.”

The Clas­sic tri­umph capped a suc­cess­ful Breed­ers’ Cup for the jockey, who also rode Game Win­ner and Jay­walk to vic­to­ries on Fri­day in the Ju­ve­nile and Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies Turf, re­spec­tively.

Gun­n­ev­era re­turned $21.80 and $11.80, while Thun­der Snow paid $8 in re­deem­ing him­self at Churchill Downs af­ter a last-place fin­ish in the 2017 Ken­tucky Derby.

Off the board were Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baf­fert’s duo of West Coast and McKinzie. They fin­ished sev­enth and 12th, re­spec­tively, af­ter pro­jec­tions of chal­leng­ing Ac­cel­er­ate in the mar­quee event of nine sea­so­nend­ing cham­pi­onship races. – AP

Photo: AP

Florent Ger­oux, left, cel­e­brates as he rides Monomoy Girl to vic­tory as Joe Bravo, cen­ter, atop Blue Prize and Jose Or­tiz, right, atop Wow Cat fol­low in the Breed­ers’ Cup Distaff horse race at Churchill Downs on Satur­day, in Louisville, Ken­tucky.

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