07/05/2011 2:14PM

Hollywood Park: Acclamation will skip Hollywood Gold Cup, stay on turf

Benoit & Associates
Acclamation's connections have opted against a start in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Acclamation will stay on turf and not start in Saturday’s $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, trainer Don Warren said Tuesday, leaving the top race for older horses at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting without a confirmed pacesetter.

Acclamation won the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap in May and the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap on turf last month at the current Hollywood Park meeting. Co-owner Bud Johnston said after the Whittingham that he would consider the Gold Cup with Acclamation and even sent Acclamation to Hollywood Park, from Warren’s base at Santa Anita, for a workout June 28 to see how the 5-year-old handled Hollywood’s Cushion Track synthetic surface.

On Tuesday, after Acclamation worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 at Santa Anita, Warren said the Gold Cup was no longer in the plans, and that one of two races – the $100,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 17 or the $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar on July 23 – was the next goal.

The desire to stay on turf sealed the decision, Warren said.

“I don’t think we’re going to go” in the Gold Cup, he said. “It’s not because we’re afraid of the competition. We don’t want to switch over to the Cushion Track.

“He runs well on turf. We’ll take a look at the Sunset. Then there is the Eddie Read at Del Mar, too.”

In addition, trainer Mike Pender said that Jeranimo, winner of the Grade 2 Strub Stakes and San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita in 2010, would pass the Gold Cup for the Eddie Read.

Their absences leaves the Gold Cup with seven confirmed runners – Dark Cove, First Dude, Game On Dude, Miss Match, Setsuko, Soul Candy, and Twirling Candy. A decision on whether Aggie Engineer starts was to be made Wednesday, when entries were taken, trainer Paddy Gallagher said.

Aggie Engineer would likely set the pace, if he starts. Otherwise, First Dude or Twirling Candy could inherit that role, although both have been raced from off the pace in recent starts.

Flores wins first Thoroughbred race

Apprentice jockey Eswan Flores won the first Thoroughbred race of his career aboard Kelly Leak in a claiming race on turf Monday.

Flores, 18, rode his first Thoroughbred race last Friday. Kelly Leak was his fourth Thoroughbred mount. He later finished third on Vikkilee later on Monday’s program.

A high school senior who will graduate this fall, Flores began riding Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos in January, winning with 21 of 205 mounts. He rode Sex on Fire to a fifth-place finish in the $1.1 million Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 26.

After his win Monday, Flores said he is prepared to make a full transition to Thoroughbred racing. He rode at Los Alamitos on Sunday evening.

The win on Kelly Leak, a 5-year-old gelding best known for winning the 2009 Sunland Park Derby against eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, provided Flores with a sense of relief.

“I had a lot of stress,” he said. “It’s over.”

Flores has one mount on Thursday, Unbridled Score in the fourth race, and two on Friday evening. Flores said is hoping to use the final two weeks of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting as a way to build business in advance of the Del Mar meeting, which begins July 20.