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ACCLAMATION SANTA ANITA AUTUMN HORSE OF THE MEET
ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 2011) – Acclamation, a late-maturing son of Unusual Heat who reeled off five straight graded stakes victories including the Grade II Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship on Oct. 2, was named Horse of the Meet in the first Santa Anita Autumn media poll.
Acclamation also was named Outstanding Grass Horse. Trained by Don Warren for owners Peter Hilvers and Bud and Judy Johnston, the front-running Acclamation began his streak with a seven-length win in the Grade II Jim Murray Handicap on May 14, followed by a 3 ½-length win in the Grade I Charlie Whittingham Handicap, a 3 ¼-length win in the Grade I Eddie Read, and a courageous head triumph in the Grade I Pacific Classic on Del Mar’s synthetic Polytrack prior to the Hirsch victory.
Before the Murray, Acclamation had lost four straight races.
“They’ve been asking me all year how he’s improved so much,” Warren said. “I just think he’s matured this year into his full potential. It’s that and figuring out what he likes to do. He likes to be out there in front . . . He must have a tremendous set of lungs because he can still come home in :23 and change in a mile and a half race. It’s amazing. We’re very proud of this honor and we hope to bring Acclamation back to race next year.”
Acclamation had Breeders’ Cup aspirations before being sidelined with a soft tissue injury after his Hirsch victory.
Amazombie, however, was another story. Unraced in stakes competition until this year, the California-bred gelding won the Grade I Ancient Title Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 8 before going on to register the crowning achievement of veteran trainer Bill Spawr’s heretofore unheralded career with a neck victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, making him a unanimous selection as the meet’s Outstanding Sprinter.
Other selections were: Older Horse, Goodwood Stakes winner Game On Dude, who finished second in the BC Classic; Older Filly or Mare and Grass Filly or Mare, Yellow Ribbon Stakes winner Dubawi Heights; Male 3-year-old, Oak Tree Derby winner Ultimate Eagle; 3-year-old filly, Lady’s Secret winner Zazu; Male 2-Year-old, Norfolk Stakes winner Creative Cause, who would run a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; Oak Leaf Stakes winner Weemissfrankie, third in the BC Juvenile Fillies; and Spirit Seeker, Outstanding Claiming Horse. A 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Spirit Seeker won for $20,000 on Oct. 13 and came back to win at the $40,000 level on Oct. 27
Also, John Sadler, who led all conditioners with 14 wins during the 24-day session, Outstanding Trainer; Rafael Bejarano, who won the sixth race on closing day by a nose aboard 9-2 shot Avarooskie to edge Joel Rosario for the riding crown, 32-31, Outstanding Jockey; and B.J. Wright of Pasadena, whose Jeranimo won the Grade II Oak Tree Mile on Oct. 8 and whose Ultimate Eagle captured the Grade II Oak Tree Derby a week later, Owner of the Meet. The Mile and Derby wins on consecutive weekends by Wright and trainer Mike Pender were named Achievement of the Meet.
Eswan Flores, an 18-year-old from Tepatitlan, Mexico, was named top apprentice rider by virtue of his seven victories from 75 rides.
The California Cup Classic, in which the first four horses finished a length apart, was named Race of the Meet. The winner by a neck was 3-2 favorite Norvsky, also trained by Don Warren. Lucky Primo was second by a nose over Holladay Road, who was a half-length to the good of fourth-place Mega Heat.
2011 SANTA ANITA AUTUMN MEET MEDIA POLL
Horse of the Meet: Acclamation
Older Horse: Game On Dude
Older Filly/Mare: Dubawi Heights
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Owner: B.J. Wright
Apprentice Jockey: Eswan Flores
Grass Horse: Acclamation
Grass Filly/Mare: Dubawi Heights
Male 3-year-old: Ultimate Eagle
Claiming Horse: Spirit Seeker
Three-year-old filly: Zazu
2-Year-Old: Creative Cause
2-Year-Old Filly: Weemissfrankie
Race of the Meet: Cal Cup Classic
Achievement: Trainer Pender and Owner Wright winning graded stakes on successive weekends