Acclamation getting better with age?

Acclamation, who proved he’s not just a Hollywood Park wonder horse by romping to a 3 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar, has matured quite a bit since last year’s ill-fated run in the Eddie Read when he faded to finish sixth.

“We were looking at pictures of him last year before he ran in the United Nations (Handicap) and he looked like a big 2-year-old,” trainer Donald Warren said. “He didn’t look like he was developed at all. He’s really changed and developed into a mature-looking race horse.”

And now the 5-year-old horse’s connections are hoping he has the stuff to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.

A winner of 7 of 26 lifetime for earnings of $938,048, Acclamation made it three consecutive victories with the Eddie Read score. He won the Grade I Charlie Whittingham Handicap by 3 1/2 lengths on June 11 and the Grade II Jim Murray Handicap by seven lengths on May 14, both at Hollywood Park. He won the same two stakes last year before heading to Monmouth Park for the United Nationals Handicap, a race where he never had the lead and faded to finish last in a nine-horse field.

Acclamation tried to go gate to wire in last summer’s Eddie Read and carved out similar fractions as he did this year. Only this time he drew out in the stretch rather than fading to sixth, beaten 5 1/4 lengths in a race won by The Usual Q.T.

The difference? Either it’s the added maturity or the fact he stayed home this summer. The trip to Monmouth might have taken a little bit too much out of the son of Unusual Heat, who also sired The Usual Q.T.

Warren, who by his count has now won three Grade I races, all by Acclamation, was pleased with the ride by Joel Rosario, who is 2 for 2 aboard the winner.

“He gave him the perfect ride,” Warren said. “He broke a little slow, but he made the lead easy. I like to see him cruising on an easy lead and I always like to see a horse slip away on the last turn like he did. Just done to perfection.”

Said Rosario: “He was very comfortable today. I could see his ears up and going back and forth. He was just having fun out there. This was like when I rode him in that mile and a half (Jim Murrary Handicap) up at Hollywood. He ran the same way that day. So relaxed. He’s a really nice horse.”

Next up for Acclamation?

Most likely the Del Mar Handicap, at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, on Aug. 28. It’s a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race, meaning a victory would guarantee Acclamation a berth in the Turf and give his connections an extra $10,000 for travel expenses.

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