05/14/2011 5:48PM

Hollywood Park: Acclamation repeats in Jim Murray Handicap

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BENOIT PHOTO
Acclamation, under Joel Rosario, captures the Jim Murray Handicap for the second straight year.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - For the rest of his career, Acclamation should run in every turf race possible at Hollywood Park.
Saturday, Acclamation, 5, successfully defended his title in the $150,000 Jim Murray Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf. The Grade 2 Murray, named for the late sportswriter, was Acclamation’s third career stakes win, all of which have come on Hollywood Park’s turf course.

“He loves this racetrack,” owner Bud Johnston said. “We thought he was the class of the race.”

Ridden by Joel Rosario, Acclamation ($4.80) had a perfect trip in the Murray, stalking pacesetter All Saint to the final turn before pulling away to win by seven lengths. Falcon Rock, third early, finished second, a half-length in front of Haimish Hy, who closed from last in the field of five. Buenos Dias finished fourth, well clear of All Saint, who faded through the stretch after leading by as many as six lengths.

Acclamation was timed in 2:25.63. For a pre-race strategy, Johnston and trainer Don Warren hoped that Acclamation would stalk All Saint, who was attempting to win his fifth consecutive stakes after four minor stakes wins at Turf Paradise from December to early April.

“It went exactly like we planned to let [All Saint] go for a five- or six-length lead,” Warren said. “We knew he could sit second as long as he wasn’t bumped around. We got the race set-up and it went right.”

Acclamation, a 5-year-old by Unusual Heat, has won 5 of 24 starts and $608,048. The Murray was Acclamation’s first stakes win since the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park last June, a span of four losses at Monmouth, Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Charles Town. The $250,000 Whittingham over 1 1/4 miles on turf June 11 will be Acclamation’s next start, Johnston said.