05/25/2012 3:06PM

Hollywood Park: Acclamation finishes strong in drill

Shigeki Kikkawa
Acclamation is preparing for a start in the the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – There were varying levels of comebacks in effect when the 2011 champion Acclamation worked a mile on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park on Friday morning.

Acclamation, champion older male of 2011, is nearing his first start of 2012 in the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf June 9. Acclamation was entered for the Inglewood Handicap in April, but was scratched when trainer Don Warren expressed concerned about the horse’s soundness.

Tests revealed no problems, allowing Acclamation to return to serious training earlier this month.

Warren did not attend Friday’s workout. He was at home recovering from a heart attack and severe colon infection diagnosed last week. Warren was in contact with assistant Tim Reavey and owner Bud Johnston, who watched the workout.

Acclamation was ridden by jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who took off his mounts May 20, citing difficulty in controlling his weight.

Valenzuela said his condition had improved Friday, and he plans to return to riding at Hollywood Park on Thursday.

Acclamation worked in company with Norvsky, winner of the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita in January.

Acclamation worked a mile in 1:38.40 and worked alone for the first quarter-mile. Norvsky, who worked six furlongs in 1:12.40, joined Acclamation on the backstretch and raced within a length of the champion throughout the exercise. Acclamation worked the first half-mile in approximately 50 seconds and quickened through the stretch.

“As soon as that horse got to him, he wanted to go again,” Valenzuela said of the stretch run.

Reavey, who regularly gallops Acclamation, said fitness will not be an issue for the Whittingham. Acclamation has not started since winning the Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita in October, the last of five consecutive stakes wins.

“I’m not worried about being ready for the mile and a quarter,” he said. “The gallops I give him get him plenty of air.”

Reavey said he was content with Acclamation’s finish.

“That was the main thing, to see him finish up well,” he said.

A race has not been chosen for Norvsky, who finished eighth in the Charles Town Classic on dirt in West Virginia last month.

Warren resting at home

Warren, 60, was released from a local hospital Thursday and plans to spend a few days at home before he resumes overseeing his Santa Anita-based stable.

He said his doctor would prefer that he return to work about the same time that Acclamation returns to racing, but he does not envision staying away that long.

“He doesn’t want me to work for two weeks,” Warren said. “Training is not work. Training is fun.

“I’m feeling good.”

Valenzuela struggling with weight

Valenzuela, who has won 4,334 races in his career, returned to riding last month after a five-month retirement. He has struggled to regain business. At the current Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, Valenzuela has one win from 26 mounts.

Valenzuela, 49, had one mount on May 20, but said his weight was as high as 129 pounds that day, far higher than the 122 pounds he carried in a race May 19. He said a poor diet had contributed to his weight problems.

On Friday, Valenzuela said he made progress in lowering his weight, but did not reveal what he weighed, saying he had not stepped on a scale that morning.

“I’m a lot lighter than I was last week,” he said. “I’m hoping to get back on Thursday. I don’t want to do overweight.”

Last December, Valenzuela announced his retirement, citing a gall bladder surgery in November and lingering soreness in his knees.

Rousing Sermon eyes Swaps Stakes

Rousing Sermon, eighth in the Kentucky Derby on May 5, worked six furlongs in 1:14 at Hollywood Park on Friday.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said the $150,000 Swaps Stakes on July 4 is likely to be Rousing Sermon’s next start and not the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 9.

Rousing Sermon worked alone Friday, his second workout since the Kentucky Derby.

“I think with our horse right now, even though he’ll have a regular work schedule, we’ll give him a small break,” Hollendorfer said. “That’s what I’m leaning to. We’ll look at the Swaps and then a big race back East.

“We’re thinking of being a little easy on him right now, and not be that hard on him so we can have a horse around at the end of the year. Sometimes, you can’t do everything you want to do.”

Owned by Larry and Marianne Williams, Rousing Sermon could be considered for major stakes for 3-year-olds at Monmouth Park or Saratoga in late July and August, if he runs well in the Swaps.

Hollendorfer has pair for Gamely

Hollendorfer will have two graded stakes winners in Monday’s $250,000 Gamely Stakes – Capital Plan, winner of the Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita last month, and City to City, who won the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

The Grade 1 Gamely Stakes, run over 1 1/8 miles on turf for fillies and mares, has an expected field of eight, including two other stakes winners in April – Belle Royale and Quiet Oasis.