Accelerate burns off rivals to win Pacific Classic by record margin
Accelerate made one thing certain in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Saturday. On the west coast he's number one – and it's not even close. Accolades beyond that will be decided soon enough.
Stephen Foster Handicap winner Pavel made a run, after a stalking trip behind a three-wide wall of leaders in the backstretch – Roman Rosso, Prime Attraction and Accelerate – but got nowhere near the winner and had to settle for second.
Accelerate joined Lava Man (2006) and Game On Dude (2013) as the only horses to sweep the Santa Anita Handicap, Gold Cup, and Pacific Classic in one season.
"I've been training in southern California my whole career, so to win this race down here means a lot," trainer John Sadler said of his first Pacific Classic success. "We've been second and third a lot of times, so it was fun to get the win today."
Joel Rosario rode Accelerate for the first time here, with Victor Espinoza on the sidelines. After some asking out of the gate, Rosario got his mount into a stalking position, although three wide, outside of Roman Rosso and Prime Attraction. Accelerate was four lengths clear at the two-furlong pole and was under no threat the rest of the way.
"He's a very nice horse," said Rosario. "He put me in a good place, and took me to the outside, and we went from there."
Pavel finished three and three-quarter lengths clear of third-placed Prime Attraction.
Kosta and Pete Hronis, who started their venture into horse ownership in 2010, relished their 13th Grade 1 win.
"I'm so happy for John Sadler to get his first Pacific Classic," said Kosta Hronis. "For the Hronis family to be a part of it, it's an honour. It's such an honour to be in the conversation [with Lava Man and Game On Dude]. Those are all Hall of Fame horses."
Kosta Hronis said he expects Accelerate to run in the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita to prep for the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November.
The Pacific Classic is a Breeders' Cup Challenge 'win and you're in' event, and guarantees Accelerate an automatic berth in the Classic starting gate.
Kosta Hronis was asked about Accelerate's potential for Horse of the Year honours, should the chestnut win the rest of his races in 2018.
"With all due respect to [Triple Crown winner] Justify, who was a brilliant horse and did something no-one has ever done, but that's three-year-olds only, restricted, two turns on dirt," he said.
"It's kind of a narrow lane compared to what this level of racing is. I guess I consider the Breeders' Cup the Super Bowl, not the three-year-old races. Being in the same conversation with him is wonderful, but we'll see how it plays out."
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