Sat, 09/29/2018 - 13:25

September 29, 2018 | Source: TDN

Hronis Racing’s Accelerate (Lookin at Lucky) continued his domination of the handicap division Saturday with his third straight win at the highest level in Santa Anita’s GI Awesome Again S., a “Win and You’re In” for the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs Nov. 3.

A bit restless in the gate, Accelerate broke a step slower than the rest from the outside stall in this six-horse test. The 1-5 favorite quickly got his hooves beneath him and caught up to the field in just a few strides, running two-wide in mid-pack as longshot Shades of Victory (Thorn Song) was pushed along by champion West Coast (Flatter)–who was making his first start since finishing second in the Mar. 31 G1 Dubai World Cup–through a :22.89 first quarter. A very eager West Coast tugged his way up to the front, clocking a half in :46.17, and was soon joined by Isotherm (Lonhro {Aus}) and Accelerate to his outside. Those two rivals overtook West Coast in unison as they hit the three-eighths pole in 1:10.35 and the Eclipse winner briefly appeared beaten, but re-rallied to challenge Accelerate in the stretch as Isotherm began to fade. Accelerate was always going the better of the two, however, and cruised home a 2 1/4-length victor. West Coast, the 8-5 second-choice, held second, finishing a half-length clear of 57-1 shot Isotherm, who is a two-time graded winner on grass.

“He wasn’t very good in the gate, didn’t stand very well and that’s probably my fault,” said winning trainer John Sadler. “He kind of missed the break. I should have taken him one more time to the gate to stand. But, he overcame it, got a nice clean trip and the best horse prevailed today. I felt good when he was clear all the way around there. He’s got a good kick.”

The conditioner continued, “Breeders’ Cup is obviously next up. We’ll train here at home and then go and follow Bob Baffert over there to Churchill about a week before. We’ll kind of walk behind Bob and creep up on him. It’s a good feeling that we might go into the Classic the favorite because I like being the favorite. It has the highest probability of winning. He’s a good horse, doing great and probably the best horse in the country now, clearly. We’ll be ready.”

As for runner-up West Coast, Baffert said, “He’s got a chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic with this race under his belt. He made that horse [Accelerate] run today. We got beat by a really good horse. [West Coast] was empty earlier than I thought, but his class kept him in it, he kept running. This race will really set him up well for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”

Kicking off this term with a pair of facile victories in the Feb. 3 GII San Pasqual S. and Mar. 10 GI Santa Anita H., Accelerate came up just a neck short of Grade I winner City of Light (Quality Road) in his only start outside of California in the GII Oaklawn H. Apr. 14. Trumping his foes by 4 1/2 lengths in the GI Gold Cup at Santa Anita May 26, the chestnut made a mockery of the GI Pacific Classic field with a 12 1/2-length tour de force at Del Mar last time Aug. 18. It was announced just 11 days after that victory that Accelerate would stand at Lane’s End upon his retirement.