07/19/2012 4:27PM

Del Mar: Acclamation looks tough to tackle in Eddie Read Stakes

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Acclamation will be a heavy favorite in Saturday's Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The winning streak stands at six races, all graded stakes, dating back to May 2011.

Acclamation has been unbeatable in California for more than a year, the reason he won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding older male of 2011.

Now 6, Acclamation is expected to add to that list when he starts as a heavy favorite in Saturday’s $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar.

Acclamation has four rivals. A loss would be a shock. He is expected to set the pace and has proven to be almost unbeatable with that style. In the 2011 Read, Acclamation led throughout the race over 1 1/8 miles on turf and won by 3 1/4 lengths.

“When he gets alone on the lead and gets comfortable, he’s hard to beat,” trainer Don Warren said. “If someone wants to get a crazy idea and take the racetrack away from him, we’ll let them.”

Even without the lead, Acclamation can win. He stalked the pace in the Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Stakes at Santa Anita last fall and closed well to win what would be his final start of 2011.

The Grade 1 Read will be Acclamation’s second start of the year, preceded by a one-length win in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 9. The hope for Warren is that Acclamation’s 2012 campaign will stretch well into the fall and include a start in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in November. He did not start in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs.

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“We’ve just started a little later,” Warren said. “Hopefully, we’ll finish it off this time.”

The victory in the Whittingham left Warren encouraged about Acclamation’s condition.

“I wasn’t really surprised he won,” Warren said. “I thought he was about as ready as you could get them on works alone. They don’t have to be 100 percent. They can be 90 percent.

“He’s done everything I’ve asked of him.”

A winner of 10 of 29 starts and $1,778,048, Acclamation will be ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, his regular rider since last August.

His rivals in the Read include Interaction, winner of the Group 1 Carlos Pellegrini Stakes in Argentina in 2009; Slim Shadey, who won the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January; Casino Host, winner of the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz, Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds in April; and Hog’s Hollow, who was stakes placed earlier this year at Santa Anita.

A second-place finish is worth $60,000 and may be all that is at stake for those four runners.

“If Acclamation goes to the front and gets the fractions he’s been setting, he’ll be hard to beat,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains Slim Shadey. “We’ve got to try something a little different.”

Slim Shadey was second to Acclamation in the Whittingham, but followed with a fifth-place finish after a poor start in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 7.

“I think you can disregard the last race,” Callaghan said. “It was a tough battle when he jumped off.”

Interaction joined trainer Ron McAnally’s stable over the winter and won his California debut in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park on June 16. He won’t have the lead, but could get closer in the stretch.

“I hope Acclamation sets a nice fast pace for him,” McAnally said.

Even that may not be enough.