01/27/2010 1:00AM

Acclamation the outsider


ARCADIA, Calif. - When Acclamation drew the outside post in a field of 11 for Saturday's $500,000 Sunshine Million Classic at Santa Anita, all trainer Don Warren could do was shake his head in disappointment.

Acclamation, who placed in four stakes last year, was a wide third in an optional claimer here on Jan. 15, and Warren fears the same scenario could develop in the Sunshine Millions Classic, which is run over 1 1/8 miles for California-breds and Florida-breds.

Owned by breeders Bud and Judy Johnston, Acclamation has won 2 of 13 starts and $207,048. He has been close in several important races, including a third at 59-1 in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby in September, a third at 75-1 in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November, and a third in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap in December.

Those races were on turf, but Acclamation showed he is not a surface specialist when he was beaten only 1 1/4 lengths in the Jan. 15 optional claimer on the main track.

"It seemed like he was wide on both turns and was a little too wide when the running started," Warren said. "There was never any chance to move over.

"It would be nice to move inside and not be too wide again. He has enough speed so you can maneuver where you want to be."

Acclamation finished behind The Usual Q.T. in the Hollywood Derby, and that 4-year-old is the leading contender for the Sunshine Millions Classic from Warren's perspective.

"I think The Usual Q.T. will be favored," Warren said. "I'm still kind of an outside contender, though."

Warren laughed at himself when he said the words outside contender, but then recalled how well Acclamation had run as a longshot in the Del Mar and Hollywood derbies. Considering those results, the phrase seems to make sense.

The Classic has just three shippers - Palladio, Bad Action and Wicked Style - and eight California-based runners. Not all of the California-based runners are California-breds.

Jeranimo, a Florida-bred, is trained at Santa Anita by Mike Pender. Owned by B.J. Wright, Jeranimo won an allowance race over 6 1/2 furlongs on Jan. 13, his first victory in nearly a year. Jeranimo will be making his first start at 1 1/8 miles in the Sunshine Millions Classic. He was third in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here last March.

Nextdoorneighbor stepping up

Nextdoorneighbor, the four-length winner of a maiden race for 3-year-olds on Sunday, will make his stakes debut in the $150,000 Sham Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 27, trainer Mike Machowsky said.

Owned by John and Jerry Amerman, Nextdoorneighbor needed three races to beat maidens, finally doing so in a one-mile race, his first start around two turns.

"I was anxious to try him two turns," Machowsky said. "The mile and an eighth won't hurt him. I think he'll fit with the jump in class."

Bred by the Amermans, Nextdoorneighbor is by Lido Palace out of Fencelineneighbor, a stakes winner campaigned by the Amermans.

Proviso starting her year

Proviso, fourth behind Life Is Sweet in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic here in November, will make her 2010 debut in Sunday's $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap over seven furlongs.

The Grade 1 Santa Monica will be Proviso's first start for trainer Bill Mott. She was trained last fall by Bobby Frankel, who died in November.

Proviso has won 5 of 17 starts and $725,473, with 15 of her races coming in Europe from 2007 until last September. She won three stakes in Europe and was fourth in the 2008 French Oaks.

Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Proviso finished first in her U.S. debut, the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland in October, but was disqualified and placed second for causing interference in the stretch.

The Santa Monica field is expected to include Czechers, Diamondrella, Evita Argentina, Free Flying Soul, and Gabby's Golden Gal.

Surface holding up

Santa Anita got approximately three-tenths of an inch of rain from Tuesday into Wednesday, which caused no disruption to main track training on Wednesday morning.

The track superintendent, Richard Tedesco, said that as much as an inch of rain had been expected, which led him to aerate the main track on Monday in an effort to improve drainage.

"It wasn't much," he said. "I had to do what I had to do."

There were 48 recorded works on the main track on Wednesday, including one by the multiple stakes winner Misremembered, who went seven furlongs in 1:25. Misremembered is being pointed for the $200,000 Strub Stakes for 4-year-olds on Feb. 6.

Earlier this month, Santa Anita lost three days of racing when the Pro-Ride synthetic track failed to drain sufficiently during a five-day period of steady rain.

Tedesco said no rain is forecast through the weekend.