08/29/2011 2:09PM

Del Mar: Acclamation unlikely to try dirt

Benoit & Associates
Acclamation earned an automatic berth in the BC Classic but will more likely target the BC Turf.

DEL MAR, Calif. – By virtue of his victory in the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic on Sunday here at Del Mar, Acclamation earned an automatic berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. But the chances of him running in that race are remote.

Acclamation’s previous best form had been on turf, the surface on which he had won three straight stakes – including two Grade 1 races – preceding in the Pacific Classic. Both Don Warren, who trains Acclamation, and Bud Johnston, who bred the horse and is his co-owner, were willing to take a shot on Del Mar’s Polytrack surface following a sharp workout six days before the Pacific Classic. But they remain circumspect over running Acclamation on dirt. And Acclamation still needs to be made eligible to the Breeders’ Cup program. He’s not nominated – yet.

“If we run in one of the Breeders’ Cup races, my preference would be to run in the grass race,” Johnston said, referring to the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf, “rather than on the Churchill Downs dirt. We’ll have to think it over. On turf, he’s a tough horse, but the turf race will come up tough with all the Europeans. You have to weigh the factors.”

Johnston said he is “not sure” how Acclamation would like the Churchill Downs main track.

“I don’t know how he’d handle it,” he said. “I know he handles this track, and he handles turf. I’m not ruling anything out, but I wouldn’t say the Classic is our first choice.”

Warren on Monday morning said Acclamation came out of the Pacific Classic in good shape, but plans for upcoming starts will await a later date.

“We haven’t discussed anything yet,” said Warren, 59, who scored the biggest win of his career in the Pacific Classic. “We’ve had to make a lot of decisions just about every day for the past four weeks. How is the track today? Is the weather going to be warm and effect the track? We’ve got to give our minds a rest.”

Immediately following the Pacific Classic, Johnston mentioned the Canadian International, run Oct. 16 at Woodbine, as a possible next start for Acclamation. If he goes there, though, that likely would preclude a start in the Breeders’ Cup three weeks later. If the Breeders’ Cup Turf becomes a target, a logical prep for it would be the Clement Hirsch Stakes on Oct. 2 during the upcoming fall meeting, previously known as the Oak Tree season, at Santa Anita.

There are no concrete plans yet for either Twirling Candy and Game On Dude, who finished second and fourth, respectively, in the Pacific Classic, though both have performed well this year in races, like the Pacific Classic, at 1 1/4 miles, the same distance as the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The prep at Santa Anita’s fall meeting for the Breeders’ Cup Classic is the Goodwood Stakes on Oct. 1.

“That was a tough beat. It’s going to take a couple of days for me to pick my head up,” John Sadler, the trainer of Twirling Candy, said Monday morning. “I’ll get with the owners later this week and figure out what we’re going to do.”

Bob Baffert, the trainer of Game On Dude, on Monday said he “hadn’t even thought” about where Game On Dude would run next, though he said both he and The Factor, who scored a brilliant win in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien Stakes on Sunday, came out of their races in good shape.