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Proud Accolade sizzles with blinkers
INGLEWOOD, Calif.- Proud Accolade, the Champagne Stakes winner who lost for the first time in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in October, worked five furlongs in 58.60 seconds at Hollywood Park on Monday.
The quick work leaves him on schedule for the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 18, a race that may decide the Eclipse Award for the nation's champion 2-year-old.
Aside from Proud Accolade, the race is expected to draw Wilko, the upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and Declan's Moon, the undefeated colt who has won two graded stakes. Monday, Wilko worked six furlongs in 1:13 at Hollywood.
Proud Accolade has been in California for a week to prepare for the Futurity. Monday's workout was his first at Hollywood. Proud Accolade was equipped with blinkers, which trainer Todd Pletcher said he will wear for the first time in a race in the 1 1/16-mile Futurity.
"He's still putting it together. This might help him get there sooner," Pletcher said of the blinkers. "Even in his first couple of races at Saratoga, he was gawking around. I think now is the time to try it."
Proud Accolade worked with stablemate Essence, the winner of the Anne Arundel Stakes at Pimlico on Nov. 20. The two started as a pair, but Proud Accolade, racing on the inside, drew clear in the final quarter-mile. He finished approximately five lengths in front of Essence. The time was the fastest of 31 works at the distance.
"It was a touch quicker than I wanted to go," Pletcher said. "I think the blinkers made a difference."
Owned by Padua Stables, Proud Accolade has won 3 of 4 starts and $355,200. He was sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30, a race in which he could have clinched the 2-year-old championship.
Frankel, Pletcher dominate Turf Festival
The art of handicapping was made simpler for racegoers during the Autumn Turf Festival. To find winners of six of the seven races, bettors needed only to back horses trained by Bobby Frankel or Pletcher.
Perhaps the only thing that kept the pair from sweeping all seven races was that neither had a starter in Sunday's Grade 1 Hollywood Derby, which was won by Good Reward, trained by Shug McGaughey.
Frankel won four of the seven stakes - the first division of Friday's Miesque Stakes with Louvain, Friday's Hollywood Turf Express with Cajun Beat, Saturday's Grade 1 Citation Handicap with Leroidesanimaux, and Sunday's Grade 1 Matriarch with Intercontinental. He also ran second in the Matriarch Stakes with Etoile Montante.
Pletcher won a division of the Miesque with Paddy's Daisy and Saturday's Generous Stakes with Dubleo.
Frankel expected to do well.
"It wasn't like they were longshots," he said. "I thought I had a good chance in the Citation with three horses. With Louvain, I had to beat one filly. Cajun Beat, I thought he'd win."
Frankel hoped to have had a runner in the Derby, but Greek Sun was taken out of training last week with an ankle injury.
Louvain and Leroidesanimaux are likely to be given layoffs. There have been discussions about retiring Intercontinental, but her status had not been determined on Monday. Cajun Beat, best known for winning the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint, may start in early 2005 at Santa Anita.
"He'll run a few times," Frankel said. "He's a gelding. As long as he's healthy, we'll run him."
Frankel is hoping to stretch out Cajun Beat, who won the Turf Express by three lengths, scoring his first turf stakes.
"I don't know about right away, but he looks like he'll go farther," Frankel said.
A 4-year-old owned by Padua Stables and Joe and John Iracane, Cajun Beat has specialized in sprints throughout his career. In his only start beyond seven furlongs, Cajun Beat finished sixth in the 2003 Tampa Bay Derby over 1 1/16 miles.
Frankel's male turf division has remarkable depth. Three Valleys, who finished third in the Citation, may be tried on the hillside turf course during the upcoming Santa Anita winter meeting, Frankel said. Three Valleys was a top 2-year-old in England last year.
Better Talk Now tops Turf Cup probables
Frankel will have runners in both of the weekend's upcoming stakes.
In the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, Frankel will start License to Kill, a Brazilian import, and the mare Megahertz.
The Grade 1 Turf Cup, run over 1 1/2 miles, is led by Better Talk Now, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park in October. Other probable starters are Habaneros, Moscow Burning, Pellegrino, and Puerto Banus.
License to Kill won two group stakes in Brazil in the spring. Megahertz, who has never won beyond 1 1/4 miles, finished 11th in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Lone Star Park in October.
Sunday's $100,000 Vernon Underwood Stakes over six furlongs features My Cousin Matt and Our New Recruit, who finished third and 12th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Our New Recruit worked six furlongs in 1:11.60 on Sunday, the fastest of 13 recorded works at the distance. Trained by John Sadler, Our New Recruit has won two stakes this year - the $2 million Golden Shaheen Sprint in Dubai in March and the restricted Pirate's Bounty Handicap at Del Mar.
Sadler dismissed the Breeders' Cup result, saying that Our New Recruit twisted an ankle during the race.
"We've gone over him physically and we know he's ready to go," Sadler said. "He's come back to train well. I expect him to run his race."
The other probable starters for the Underwood include the defending champion, the Frankel-trained Watchem Smokey, as well as Crystal Castle, Revello, and Taste of Paradise.
Solis targets February for return
Jockey Alex Solis, who suffered a vertebrae injury in a spill at Del Mar in late July, is tentatively hoping to return to riding in February.
Solis, 40, was a visitor Sunday at Hollywood Park, where he did television commentary. At times, he did not make it very far through the stands before being stopped by friends and well-wishers. Everyone asked Solis when he would return to riding.
Solis, who said he has been undergoing physical therapy for three weeks, said he is scheduled to have a CT scan this week.
"I've got a little more physical therapy to go," he said. "I hope to know more this week."
* Culture Clash, who was pulled up in the first division of the Miesque Stakes last Friday, underwent surgery on Sunday after suffering a condylar fracture to her right foreleg, trainer Marcelo Polanco said.
* Sunday's pick six pool exceeded the $1 million guarantee set by management. The final pool was $1,055,840. The bet returned $97,708 to six ticketholders. The winning horses in the pick six were Skywalker Red ($9.20), I'magambler ($14), Intercontinental ($11.20), Chinkapin ($6.60), Good Reward ($34.20), and Divine Mark ($10.80).
* Jockey Omar Figueroa has been given a three-day suspension, starting Wednesday, for causing interference in last Friday's fifth race. Figueroa's mount, Smokester's Alle, was disqualified and placed fifth for bumping a rival.