Ac­cel­er­ate wins Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic by length, per­form­ing ‘smash­ingly’

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY GARY B. GRAVES

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

The race lacked the re­tired Jus­tify and left a wide-open field, which the chest­nut 5-year-old horse 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 straight 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 Ac­cel­er­ate be­ing named this year’s top thor­ough­bred, Sadler said he’d leave that up to sports­writers who vote on the Eclipse Awards.

“To me, he’s the Horse of the Year, no doubt,” he 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 11⁄4 miles in 2:02.93 and paid $7.40, $6 and $4.40.

“He broke re­ally well,” Rosario said. “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.

“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.

Gun­n­ev­era re­turned $21.80 and $11.80; 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, who fin­ished sev­enth and 12th, re­spec­tively, af­ter pro­jec­tions of chal­leng­ing Ac­cel­er­ate in the mar­quee race of the sea­son-end­ing cham­pi­onships.

Gun­n­ev­era, Thun­der Snow and pace-set­ter Men­delssohn made it in­ter­est­ing in a wide-open field, in the ab­sence of horse rac­ing’s 13th Triple Crown win­ner. Jus­tify’s an­kle in­jury led Baf­fert to re­tire the 3-year-old in July, elim­i­nat­ing the chance to fol­low 2015 Triple Crown win­ner Amer­i­can Pharoah in pur­suit of a rare grand slam.

Ac­cel­er­ate claimed his fourth race in a row and an­swered the ques­tion of whether he could con­tinue his roll af­ter beat­ing West Coast by 21⁄4 lengths in the Awe­some Again Stakes at Santa Anita. And it fol­lowed other no­table per­for­mances on the sec­ond day of the $30 mil­lion cham­pi­onships.

Monomoy Girl bol­stered her case as the top 3-year-old filly by win­ning the $2 mil­lion Distaff. The an­tic­i­pated duel be­tween the reign­ing Ken­tucky Oaks win­ner and her 2017 pre­de­ces­sor Abel Tas­man never ma­te­ri­al­ized, as Monomoy Girl made her move at the fi­nal turn and held off Wow Cat by a length for her sixth vic­tory this sea­son.

Peter Miller made Breed­ers’ Cup his­tory as the first trainer to sad­dle two re­peat win­ners in the same Breed­ers’ Cup races. Soon af­ter Stormy Lib­eral out­du­eled fa­vorite World of Trou­ble to re­take the Turf Sprint by a neck, 6-year-old Roy H swept past Promises Ful­filled and flew to a 31⁄4-length win in the Sprint. Jockey Paco Lopez earned his first Breed­ers’ Cup vic­tory.

En­able fol­lowed last month’s Arc de Tri­om­phe vic­tory by win­ning the $4 mil­lion Turf by lengths over Mag­i­cal. The 4-yearold Bri­tish filly be­came the first horse to win both races in the same year. She earned her 10th win from 11 ca­reer starts.

DARRON CUM­MINGS AP

Joel Rosario rides Ac­cel­er­ate to vic­tory in the Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic on Satur­day at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

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