ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 22, 2016)–Sent hard from the gate, trainer Kenny Black’s Acceptance proved extra game in deep stretch, as he held off a tenacious Richard’s Boy to win Saturday’s $100,000 California Flag Handicap under veteran Stewart Elliott. Bred in California by Old English Rancho, the 4-year-old colt by Vronsky got 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:11.51.
Breaking from post position six in a field of seven California-bred or sired runners three and up, Acceptance out-dueled the runner-up going to the half mile point and was able to secure an inside position at the rail prior to crossing the dirt at the top of the lane. From there, he was all heart to the wire as he fended off serious challenges from both Richard’s Boy and favored Boozer, who ended up finishing fifth.
“He was tough today,” said Black, himself a former top apprentice rider in the early 1980s. “I thought they had him two or three times, but he just dug in. You’ve got to be proud of him. He really showed a lot of heart today…I just told Stewart (with whom Black rode as a young tyro) to meet me in the Winner’s Circle…I don’t even want to think about what race might be next. I want to give him more time between races.”
Owned by Finish Line Racing, LLC and the Ellwood Johnston Trust, Acceptance, who was off at 5-1, paid $12.20, $6.00 and $4.00. A two-time stakes winner on dirt as a juvenile, Acceptance garnered his fourth win from 11 overall starts. With the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $366,803.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Elliott. He’s got ability and he tries. He’s pretty quick himself, but that was a good post…I rode him last time (a close fifth place allowance finish down the hill on Sept. 30). Kenny said he’d put me right up there or be very close and that was it.”
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Richard’s Boy held off late closer Somethings Unusual by a half length for the place. The narrow second choice in the wagering at 7-5, Richard’s Boy paid $3.20 and $2.60.
Last after the first half mile, Somethings Unusual rallied wide-out under Drayden Van Dyke and finished third, 1 ¼ lengths in front of McHeat. Off at 15-1, “Something” paid $5.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.49, 43.19 and 1:05.47.