07/21/2011 11:43AM

Del Mar: Caracortado looks sharp for Eddie Read Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Caracortado could finally break through in Saturday's Grade 1 Eddie Read.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Grade 1 races have not been kind to Caracoratado this year.

Caracortado lost the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile by a head at Santa Anita in March and the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile by a neck July 2. He has been so close that he seems on the verge of a breakthrough, which may finally come in Saturday’s $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar for co-owners Don Blahut and trainer Mike Machowsky.

“He’s done great down here,” Machowsky said earlier this week. “He’s put on weight and he’s done everything right.”

The Grade 1 status of the Eddie Read has led others to take part, notably Smart Bid, a Maryland shipper trained by Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion; Acclamation, the leading turf horse at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting; and Celtic Princess, who won the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes for fillies and mares at Hollywood Park last month. The Read drew a field of eight – seven stakes winners and Kid Edward, who has placed in two graded stakes.

If Caracortado has an advantage, it may be his current form. He ran a winning race in the Shoemaker Mile, but Machowsky admits that Courageous Cat had the measure of Caracortado through the stretch.

“That horse outran us, but we pulled away from the rest of the field,” he said.

Machowsky envisions the Eddie Read as a prep to the $1 million Pacific Classic on the synthetic main track Aug. 28 for Caracortado. To get there, Caracortado must run well in the Eddie Read, which is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf and could develop into a strategic race among expected front-runners Acclamation and Celtic Princess and a stalker such as Smart Bid. Caracortado, Jeranimo, Goldwaki, Kid Edward, and Leroy’s Dynameaux will race from farther off the pace.

“With him not being a speed horse, he can make his own race,” Machowsky said.

Acclamation won the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf in May by stalking the pace and led throughout the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf in June. Acclamation was entered for the Grade 3 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park last Sunday and would have been a strong favorite, but owner Bud Johnston opted for this more lucrative race.

The Eddie Read will be Acclamation’s first start at Del Mar since a sixth in the 2010 Eddie Read. Acclamation was third in the 2009 Del Mar Derby.

“He likes this course,” trainer Don Warren said. “He almost won the Del Mar Derby at 60-1 and that was before he even matured. The shorter distance is a little worrisome. We won’t be on the lead by three or four lengths breezing like he did going a mile and a half.

“In the Jim Murray he rated. If he has to rate, he can do it.”

Celtic Princess led for much of the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 30, losing by a head to Dubawi Heights. A 7-year-old Brazilian-bred mare, Celtic Princess was always near the front in the Royal Heroine, took the lead in early stretch, and pulled away to win by 2 1/4 lengths.

“She doesn’t have to be on the lead,” trainer A.C. Avila said. “In Brazil, she sat third or fourth. It depends on the strategy. I worry about Graham Motion.”

Motion sent Smart Bid to California on Wednesday, trying to give the 5-year-old his second stakes win of the year. Smart Bid won the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz Handicap at Fair Grounds in March and was second in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 7 and the Colonial Turf Cup in Virginia on June 18.

“He’s such an easy horse to travel with,” Motion said Wednesday. “The Grade 1 was certainly one of the reasons for coming out. I think a mile and an eighth is a good distance for him.”