10/22/2016 6:05PM

Sharp start propels Acceptance to victory in California Flag

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Benoit & Associates
Acceptance, under Stewart Elliott, prevails by a head over Richard's Boy in the California Flag Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Acceptance parlayed a sharp start into a narrow win in Saturday’s $100,690 California Flag Handicap on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita for his first stakes victory in 22 months.

Acceptance ($12.20) finished a head in front of 7-5 Richard’s Boy, who posed a threat to the winner throughout. Acceptance ran about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:11.51.

The win was a pleasant surprise for trainer Kenny Black, who was impressed by Acceptance’s start under jockey Stewart Elliott.

“He bombed away from there,” Black said. “That’s the best he’s broken in his life.”

Acceptance led by a head over Richard’s Boy through an opening quarter-mile in 21.49 seconds and a half-mile in 43.19. Acceptance led by a half-length at the bottom of the hillside and never shook clear of Richard’s Boy.

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“I thought they had him three or four times,” Black said. “He showed a lot of heart.”

Richard’s Boy finished a half-length in front of Somethings Unusual, who was followed by McHeat, Boozer, Big Bane Theory, and Mana Strike. Boozer, the slight 7-5 favorite, was well-placed crossing onto the main turf course, but could not keep pace.

Acceptance races for the family of the late Bud Johnston and Finish Line Racing. A 4-year-old colt, Acceptance has won 4 of 11 starts and earned $366,803. At 2, he won consecutive stakes for California-breds – the Golden State Juvenile at Santa Anita and the King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos.

By the Danzig stallion Vronsky, Acceptance was winless in four starts at 3 and three starts earlier this year before the breakthrough win on Saturday.