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2011 Eclipse Awards: Acclamation
On turf, Acclamation was virtually unbeatable in 2011. He wasn’t so bad on the main track, either.
In five appearances on turf, all in California, Acclamation won four consecutive graded stakes. On the main track, he won Del Mar’s biggest race for older horses, the Pacific Classic.
Voters honored his brilliant campaign, which included three Grade 1 victories, by making him a double finalist for Eclipse Awards in the older male and turf male categories.
Acclamation, by Unusual Heat, was bred by Bud Johnston’s Old English Rancho in California and is owned by Johnston in a partnership. As a 5-year-old, Acclamation was exceptional at distances ranging from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/2 miles in 2011, winning stakes at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, and Santa Anita. The successful season was not a surprise. Acclamation was a Grade 1 winner in 2010, taking the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park, and was a more mature horse in 2011.
The season began with two losses, the only setbacks in a seven-race campaign. Acclamation was fifth in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf at Santa Anita on March 5, his lone loss on grass in 2011. That was followed by a 10th in the Charles Town Classic over a sealed and sloppy six-furlong track in West Virginia in mid-April, a loss that Johnston and trainer Don Warren dismissed before Acclamation had walked off the track. He never lost again in 2011.
Acclamation defended his title in the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Hollywood Park on May 14, winning by seven lengths. In his following start, Acclamation won the Charles Whittingham Handicap for the second straight year on June 11, leading throughout as a heavy favorite and prevailing by 3 1/2 lengths over 1 1/4 miles.
A cutback in distance proved to be no issue in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Del Mar on July 23. Again allowed to set a modest pace, Acclamation pulled away in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Jeranimo, who would later win two Grade 2 stakes.
In late August, Johnston and Warren debated whether to start Acclamation in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Del Mar’s Polytrack synthetic surface or stay on turf for the Del Mar Handicap. They chose the Pacific Classic and were rewarded when Acclamation won his richest race of the year, prevailing by a head over Twirling Candy.
It was back to turf in the fall for the Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita. Acclamation earned his fifth consecutive stakes win, going off at 2-5 and winning by a cozy three-quarters of a length over Champ Pegasus, who was second in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Johnston and Warren considered sending Acclamation in the Emirate Airlines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs in November, but a bruised foot forced the horse out of training. Johnston and Warren plan to race Acclamation in 2012. He will need to have a big year to surpass a remarkably successful 2011 campaign.
Breeder: Old English Rancho
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