ARCADIA, Calif. (May 26, 2018)–With speedy Dr. Dorr and favored City of Light ensuring a solid pace, Hronis Racing’s Accelerate saved ground while a close third until the top of the lane, where he unfurled a powerful stretch rally en route to winning Saturday’s Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita by 4 ¼ lengths under Victor Espinoza. Trained by John Sadler, Accelerate, a 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky, got a mile and one quarter in 2:01.38.
“I knew the post (#2) wasn’t great but I never worry about the (that) with this horse,” said Espinoza, who notched his third Gold Cup win dating back Early Pioneer at Hollywood Park in 2000. “When he runs, he runs and when he’s going to run a big race, that’s it. He’s improving still and he’s beat the best before so he’s capable of anything.”
Most recently second, beaten a neck by City of Light in the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles Oaklawn Handicap April 14, Accelerate was a winner of both the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 10 and the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes here on Feb. 3.
“He broke good, I think Victor wanted to put him up in the race and then see what everybody else did, so he let him run out of there and when Joe (Talamo, on Dr. Dorr) went to the front, he just sat in behind him and gave him a beautiful ride,” said Sadler, who got his first Gold Cup win in combination with Espinoza in 2015. “He had a lot of patience, a lot of confidence in this horse.
“We weren’t scared of City of Light today at this distance. Accelerate has been such a good horse for us with a lot of great wins on his resume. He was training really well, so I knew he’d run well. The Pacific Classic at Del Mar (Grade I, Aug. 18) is the race we’ll be looking for.” The second choice in a field of six 3-year-olds and up at 9-5, Accelerate paid $5.80, $3.00 and $2.10.
With the Gold Cup being his second Grade I win of the year and his fourth overall graded stakes triumph, he’s now 19-7-5-5. With the winner’s share of $300,000, Accelerate now has earnings of $1,712,480.
Although he was unable to keep the winner at bay the final eighth of a mile, Dr. Dorr, who came off a sensational win going a mile and one eighth in the Grade II Californian here on April 28, fought gamely late, holding second by 1 ¼ lengths over City of Light.
Ridden by Joe Talamo, Dr. Dorr was off at 7-2 and paid $4.20 and $2.60.
“He made an easy lead with his ears pricked and he kept fighting, as you saw,” said Talamo. “He really ran hard, a helluva race for him.”
City of Light, entered the Gold Cup on the heels of victories in the Oaklawn Handicap, the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes (March 10) and the Grade I Malibu (Dec. 26), didn’t have the necessary punch to get the job done in his first try at a mile and a quarter.
The 6-5 favorite with Drayden Van Dyke, he finished 4 ¼ lengths in front of Pavel and paid $2.20 to show.
“Accelerate really ran strong at the end and we couldn’t go with him,” said Van Dyke. “My horse relaxed real good. I definitely think he can get this distance. If I had the ideal trip, I would’ve been where Accelerate was.”
Fractions on the race were 23.28, 47.40, 1:11.70 and 1:36.43.