06/28/2011 2:18PM

Hollywood Park: Acclamation may switch surfaces for Gold Cup

Benoit & Associates
Acclamation is planning to move from turf to the synthetic main track in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Acclamation, the top turf horse at the current Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting with two graded stakes wins, will shift surfaces and run on the synthetic main track in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9.

On Tuesday, Acclamation worked seven furlongs in 1:25.20 under jockey Joe Talamo on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track synthetic surface, handling the surface without difficulty, co-owner Bud Johnston said.

“I was very happy with the workout,” said Johnston, who attended the drill. “He looked like he handled the track very well. We’re sure giving it some serious thought.

“He’s got one more workout, and we’ll probably do that at Santa Anita. We’ll see how he comes up to the race.”

Johnston said that Acclamation galloped out a mile in 1:38.20.

Tuesday’s workout was the first of Acclamation’s career on Hollywood Park’s synthetic track. Most of his works have been at Santa Anita. A 5-year-old horse, Acclamation has won 6 of 25 starts and $758,048, with all wins coming on turf. In 2010, and earlier this year, Acclamation won the Grade 2 Jim Murray and Grade 1 Charles Whittingham handicaps. He won the Whittingham by 3 1/2 lengths on June 11 as the 3-5 favorite.

In his last start not on turf, Acclamation was last of 10 in the Charles Town Classic in West Virginia on April 16, a performance blamed on a sealed wet-fast track. In his last start on a synthetic track, he was third in the 2010 Strub Stakes.

“I’d love to win the Hollywood Gold Cup,” Johnston said. “I want to think he’s got a good shot, if we run.”

Johnston said backup plans include the $100,000 Sunset Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf on July 17 or the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Del Mar on July 23.

“I’ve got the Sunset, if I don’t think the race will suit him well,” Johnston said. “There’s some places to run, alternatives.”

The Gold Cup is run over 1 1/4 miles and has nine probable starters. The list of candidates includes the first four finishers of the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on June 4 – Twirling Candy, Setsuko, Aggie Engineer, and Soul Candy; Game On Dude, who won the Santa Anita Handicap in March; First Dude, winner of the Grade 3 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs last month; Jeranimo, winner of the 2010 Strub Stakes; and Dark Cove, who is seeking his first stakes win.

Twirling Candy is the projected favorite.

Dark Cove, trained by Kenneth McPeek, recently arrived at Hollywood Park from Churchill Downs to prepare for the race. A 4-year-old colt, Dark Cove was claimed for $16,000 from a maiden race at Saratoga last August and has since won four of eight starts.

The Gold Cup will be Dark Cove’s first start in a Grade 1 race. He was third in the Colonial Turf Cup at Colonial Downs on June 18.

“We like him on the [synthetic] as much as anything,’ McPeek said Tuesday. “We feel like this is a good opportunity.”

McPeek said Dark Cove could “stay [in California] for a good part of the summer” if he runs well in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

McPeek also shipped Bizzy Caroline to Hollywood Park for the $250,000 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies on July 16. She won the Grade 3 Regret Stakes in her stakes debut at Churchill Downs on June 11.

Bench Points to take on older rivals

Bench Points, a three-time sprint stakes winner, will make his first start against older horses in Saturday’s $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap over seven furlongs, trainer Tim Yakteen confirmed Tuesday.

The winner of the Grade 3 Laz Barrera Stakes for 3-year-olds over seven furlongs May 15, Bench Points will carry 112 pounds, 11 less than topweight Amazombie, in the Grade 1 Triple Bend. Rafael Bejarano rode Bench Points in the Barrera and will ride Bench Points on Saturday.

“My horse is doing great,” Yakteen said. “It’s the last opportunity for him to get a weight break, a significant weight break, if he’s going to take on older horses. The 3-year-old program is pretty limited in California for sprinters.”

Aside from Amazombie, the list of probable starters includes the graded stakes winners Camp Victory, M One Rifle, and Smiling Tiger, as well as Color of Courage, the winner of two allowance races for sprinters this spring.

“We definitely have to respect the competition,” Yakteen said.

◗ Acclamation’s trainer Don Warren was unable to attend Tuesday’s workout. He is home recovering from a four-day stay in the hospital because of back pain.

“It turned on me the worst about five days ago,” Warren said Tuesday.

He hoped to be back at the stable in coming days.