09/02/2011 12:56PM

Top Cal-bred Acclamation targets Breeders' Cup Turf


DEL MAR, Calif. – Acclamation almost certainly clinched the title of California-bred horse of the year for 2011 with his brave win in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last Sunday.

Acclamation is the leading California-bred money winner this year, with $1,036,000, and has won three Grade 1 races. Before the Pacific Classic, Acclamation won two Grade 1 races on turf – the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar.

The only other Grade 1 winner among California-breds this year is Ultra Blend, the winner of the Clement Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar last month.

What will be determined in coming months is how far Acclamation can progress on the national stage. The three Grade 1 wins have pushed Acclamation into the debate for top older horse, within range of the New York star Tizway, who won the Met Mile and Whitney Stakes.

As of Thursday, it was unclear whether they would meet this year. While Tizway is a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Acclamation is more likely for the BC Turf, owner-breeder Bud Johnston said.

Race plans have not been made for Acclamation’s fall campaign, but a decision will be needed soon, Johnston said. Johnston said that Acclamation has made a quick recovery from the $1 million Pacific Classic, a race in which he led throughout.

“We need the horse to show up and tell us how he’s doing,” Johnston said. “I can’t believe how well he came out of it. He ate up everything that night. We had to put the tack on him on the third day. He doesn’t act like he ran, which is an amazing thing.

“I expected him to lie down in his stall and take it easy for a few days.”

After the Pacific Classic, Johnston mentioned the $1.5 million Canadian International on turf at Woodbine on Oct. 16, although the proximity to the BC Turf on Nov. 5 is a concern, Johnston said on Thursday.

“I think it’s too close to the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “We may have to skip the race in Toronto. I also have in mind Dubai in March. It’s fun to make all these plans. It’s more fun than waiting for the condition book to come out.”

If the Canadian International is bypassed, one consideration for a BC Turf prep could be the $150,000 Clement Hirsch Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 2.

Johnston and his wife Judy bred Acclamation, a 5-year-old by Unusual Heat out of Winning in Style, by Silveyville. Winning in Style was bred by the Johnston’s Old English Rancho, but did not race. Her dam, Lady with Style, by Fleet Discovery, was bred by Old English Rancho but did not race.

Aside from Acclamation, Winning in Style had two stakes-placed runners – Strut Your Stuff, who was third in the Cat’s Cradle Handicap at Hollywood Park in 2005 and earned $233,137; and Always in Style, who was second in the 2007 California Cup Juvenile Fillies and is still in training.

Always in Style, who has earned $135,902, was last of six in the Solana Beach Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 21, and will be pointed for the E.B. Johnston Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/16 miles at Fairplex Park on Sept. 12. The race is named for Johnston’s late father.

“I have a sentimental attachment to that race,” Johnston said. “We’re getting calls on her back east and if she’s for sale. We’ll probably breed her next year. She’s booked to Unusual Heat. Those are things in the future.”

Winning in Style is 23 and is in foal to Vronsky, who stands at Old English Rancho in Sanger, Calif., Johnston said. “The mare hasn’t been in foal for about four years,” Johnston said. “She’s carrying a Vronsky baby at the moment. So far, knock on wood, she’s been fine. I hope she carries it to term. It would be exciting now to have another out of her.”