01/22/2015 1:50PM

Acceptance risks perfect record in California Cup Derby

Benoit & Associates
Acceptance ran his record to 3 for 3 with this victory in the King Glorious at Los Alamitos in December.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The unbeaten 3-year-old Acceptance will try to stay perfect Saturday at Santa Anita, where his chance to win the $250,000 California Cup Derby hinges partly on the status of a key rival.

Tough Sunday scored a highly rated maiden win last out, but a bruised left front foot forced trainer Steve Miyadi to work the colt without shoes Wednesday. His participation in the 1 1/16-mile derby, race 6, will be a race-day decision.

Win or lose, Tough Sunday is a key player. From the rail post, stretching out to a route, Tough Sunday likely would set the pace. Acceptance drew post 2.

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Tough Sunday’s barefoot work Wednesday went in 1:00.60 for five furlongs.

“His shoes were bugging him,” Miyadi said. “We’ll see how he is with the shoes on; that will be day of race.”

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 2 Acceptance. Trainer Don Warren is 43-2-7-4 with a $0.37 ROI over the past five years in dirt sprints at Santa Anita. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Acceptance is expected to start favored regardless. The son of Vronsky has won all three of his starts, all for owner-breeder Old English Rancho, including a pace-pressing win Dec. 14 in the $200,000 King Glorious Stakes going a mile at Los Alamitos.

Acceptance was produced by a stakes-winning sprinter; the Los Alamitos route was a good test.

DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Tough Sunday. Trainer Steven Miyadi is 25-8-3-2 with a $2.93 ROI over the past five years going sprint to route with last-out winners less than 45 days since their last start. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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“There’s not a lot of distance on the dam’s side,” trainer Don Warren said, “so we weren’t sure if he could go that far or not.”

He did go that far, winning by three lengths while strong to the wire. Acceptance and jockey Elvis Trujillo will set or press the pace Saturday in a race that might not unfold at a particularly fast tempo.

Eight were entered in the derby. The others are likely third choice Pulmarack, Mischief Clem, Neveradoubt, Kluszewski, Chanito, and Avanti Bello.


Acceptance (Last 3 Beyers: 81-77-76)

◗ The races soon will get tougher for Acceptance. It is Derby season after all, beyond statebred variety.

“I think we’re going to be forced to go into open company,” Warren said.

◗ Acceptance’s last start was Dec. 14. Though rain messed up his training schedule “a little bit,” according to Warren, he worked a mile Jan. 15, followed Wednesday by a five-furlong work.

◗ Warren has worked to settle him down. “Mentally, he’s a little more aggressive, a little more wound up,” he said. “We’re working on keeping him quiet.”

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Tough Sunday (Last 3 Beyers: 83-72-55)

◗ After slow starts in his first two races, Tough Sunday switched to jockey Tyler Baze and romped. The difference, according to Miyadi, was simple: “Basically, it was just getting him out of the gate.”

◗ Despite the foot bruise, Tough Sunday has trained daily, though he has been limited to jogging rather than galloping.

◗ Two turns is a challenge for him. His dam, Sunday Dress, was a sprinter who has produced mostly sprinters.

“I’ve had some of his siblings,” Miyadi said. “One routed successfully.”

◗ Nick Alexander bred and owns Tough Sunday.

Pulmarack (Last 3 Beyers: 75-56-29)

◗ Runner-up to Acceptance in the King Glorious last out, Pulmarack has improved with each start. He is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and assistant Dan Ward.

◗ Pulmarack carries 117 pounds, seven fewer than Acceptance.

“I like getting seven pounds,” Ward said. “Last time, we got four, and he ran well for just breaking his maiden.”