05/10/2008 12:00AM

On the Acorn upsets Champs Elysees


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The coronation of Champs Elysees as a turf superstar will have to wait until another day. The ex-claimer On the Acorn upset the highly-regarded Champs Elysees in Saturday's $250,000 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park.

A 7-year-old gelding, On the Acorn successfully defended his title in the Grade 2 Murray, which was run over 1 1/2 miles on turf.

On the Acorn was 5-2 in 2007, but dismissed at 9-1 this year; he paid $21.60. Owned by Indizguys Stable and trained by Mike Mitchell, On the Acorn ended a three-race losing streak dating back to the 2007 Murray with his nose win over Champs Elysees, the 2-5 favorite.

Mitchell was somewhat shocked by the result. Before the race, he said he thought that On the Acorn and the others in the field were "running for second money" behind Champs Elysees.

But jockey Brice Blanc guided On the Acorn wide on the final turn and caught Champs Elysees in the final 50 yards. On the Acorn was timed in 2:27.36.

"It was a perfect trip," Mitchell said.

Mitchell credited Blanc's patient ride, which allowed On the Acorn to stalk the pacesetters until the final half-mile.

"I liked being behind" Champs Elysees, Mitchell said. "When he moved, we were close enough. I didn't know if we'd get there. If they ran it again, I might not beat him, but I beat him this time."

Champs Elysees, who won the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes in January and was a troubled third in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap in March, finished six lengths in front of Sudan.

Boule d'Or, the pacesetter, faded to finish fourth.

Church Service, trained by Mitchell, was scratched in favor of the Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park on May 26.

On the Acorn, claimed for $40,000 in November 2006, has won 8 of 32 starts and $743,812. He has earned $581,400 since being claimed.