Accelerate Completes Rare Triple in Pacific Classic

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 19th, 2018

Maybe you can question the caliber of competition he has beaten. And maybe you can question whether he can win outside of California. But it’s impossible to question Accelerate’s talent going ten furlongs on dirt, which was on full display in the Pacific Classic (gr. I) on Saturday at Del Mar.

If Accelerate hadn’t already established himself as a prime contender for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, his victory in the Pacific Classic—a “Win and You’re In” prep race for the Breeders’ Cup—certainly did. From start to finish, it was a tremendous tour de force performance. From a long way out, the outcome was a given; the only questions remaining were “how fast will he run?” and “by how many lengths will he triumph?”

With jockey Joel Rosario in the saddle for trainer John Sadler, Accelerate employed his excellent tactical speed to secure a stalking position early on, rating up close in third place while the three-time Group 1 winner Roman Rosso—making his U.S. debut—carved out fractions of :23.05, :46.69, and 1:11.25. But by the time the field hit the far turn, Accelerate was already on the move, sweeping up three-wide under urging from Rosario to take command with a decisive move.

And Accelerate didn’t stop there. With Rosario riding boldly and encouraging Accelerate to go on, the five-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky blew the race wide open, opening up a four-length lead in the blink of an eye. The Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) winner Pavel tried to get involved, likewise rallying past the pacesetters to take second place, but at no point could he match the authority of Accelerate, who poured on the gas down the homestretch to reach the wire alone, in front by 12 ½ lengths.
Accelerate’s final time of 2:01.83 might seem modest at first glance, but the Del Mar main track did not seem to be playing particularly fast on Saturday, and as a result, Accelerate was assigned impressive speed figures—a 114 BRIS and a 115 Beyer.

By adding the Pacific Classic to his earlier wins in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) and the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I), Accelerate joined Lave Man (2006) and Game On Dude (2013) as one of just three horses to sweep those three races in the same season. Not surprisingly, that streak of success has established Accelerate as one of the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, though it remains to be seen whether he can take his game on the road to Churchill Downs. After all, his lone defeat this season—a runner-up effort in the Oaklawn Handicap (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park—coincided with his only start to date outside of California, though it was by no means a poor effort.

Regardless, there’s no doubt that Accelerate has become a force to reckon with going ten furlongs—not bad for a horse who once had a reputation as a miler!