04/20/2012 1:28PM

Santa Anita: Acclamation looks ready to go


ARCADIA, Calif. – Acclamation, the California-bred honored with the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding older male of 2011 begins his 2012 season in Friday’s $100,000 Inglewood Handicap at Hollywood Park.

For trainer Don Warren, the campaign cannot begin soon enough.

Warren was left anxious to see Acclamation in action after watching the 6-year-old work a mile on turf in 1:38.20 at Santa Anita on Thursday.

“The way he worked, the way he pulled up, and the way he recovered after the work was very pleasing,” Warren said. “He looked every bit as good as he did.”

Acclamation has a very high standard to match this year. In 2011, he won 5 of 7 starts, including five consecutive graded stakes, and earned $1,126,000.

Owned by a partnership led by Bud Johnston, Acclamation’s 2011 season was highlighted by wins in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar, on a synthetic track, and two other Grade 1 races on turf – the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar.

Acclamation was taken out of training in October after bruising a foot while being prepared for the Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs.

Thursday’s workout was Acclamation’s fifth recorded workout since he resumed training earlier this year. Warren said last month that he gave Acclamation several slow workouts – such as five furlongs in 1:06 or 1:07 – that were not listed as official workouts before the horse had his first timed workout on March 24.

Thursday, Acclamation was ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, who announced last week that he is returning to riding after a four-month retirement.

Valenzuela is expected to start riding when the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting begins on Thursday.

Valenzuela rode Acclamation to wins in the Pacific Classic and Grade 2 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship at Santa Anita last October.

“He’s back just in time,” Warren said of Valenzuela. “It’s hard enough.

“I’ve got to get the horse ready to run, and I’ve got to get the jockey ready to ride.”

Warren said that Acclamation worked the final quarter-mile of Thursday’s workout in approximately 23 seconds.

“I had to get a pretty strong mile in him, and he was up to the task,” Warren said. “That was a terrific work around the dogs, going [almost] on the outside fence. It was done very well.

“It’s hard to catch the last quarter-mile, but I think he came home in about 23. He looked like he was ready to me.”

Friday’s Inglewood Handicap is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf, and is a prep for the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf on June 9. Acclamation will be after his third consecutive win in the Whittingham.

Later this year, the Eddie Read and Pacific Classic are logical targets at Del Mar, Warren said. The long-term goal is the Breeders’ Cup, which will be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 2-3.

“We’ll probably have him on about the same schedule and hopefully get to the Breeders’ Cup this time,” Warren said.