INGLEWOOD, Calif. (June 6, 2012)—Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011, will make his first start in eight months when he aims for his third consecutive victory in the Grade I, $250,000 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Set for 1 ¼ miles on turf, the Whittingham is one of three turf stakes – along with the Grade II, $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles and the $70,000 Manhattan Beach for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs – on the 11 race card. The Whittingham goes as the 10th while the Honeymoon is the third and Manhattan Beach the sixth.
In conjunction with the simulcast of the 143rd Belmont Stakes from Belmont Park, Betfair Hollywood Park will have an early post time of 11 a.m. Track gates will open at 8 a.m. Saturday. The first simulcast from Belmont Park is scheduled for 8:35 a.m.
For the first time since 2008, a Triple Crown is on the line in the Belmont. I’ll Have Another, who is stabled at Betfair Hollywood Park and who broke his maiden in his debut over Cushion Track last July 3, will try to complete the first Kentucky Derby-Preakness-Belmont sweep since Affirmed in 1978.
A 3-year-old son of Flower Alley, I’ll Have Another will be ridden once again by Mario Gutierrez, is owned by J. Paul Reddam, the sponsor of the CashCall Futurity, a Grade I fixture on Betfair Hollywood Park’s Autumn calendar, and conditioned by Doug O’Neill, who has won 10 local training titles.
In commemoration of I’ll Have Another’s bid to make history, Betfair Hollywood Park will have a shot glass giveaway – one pair per paid admission while supplies last. Courtesy of Television Games Network, there will also be a distribution of free posters – while supplies last – featuring I’ll Have Another.
Additionally, there is a Belmont Dream contest. Fans on track can enter a free drawing to secure a $1,000 win wager on the Belmont participant of their choice.
Trained by Don Warren for owner-breeders Bud and Judy Johnston and Peter and Mary Hilvers, Acclamation hasn’t raced since winning the Grade II Clement L. Hirsch last Oct. 2. The victory was the fifth in a row for the son of Unusual Heat and the Silveyville mare Winning in Style.
Two of the wins came during the Spring/Summer meet at Betfair Hollywood Park. The California bred repeated in the Grade II Jim Murray Memorial and the Whittingham Handicap after capturing both races in 2010.
Should Acclamation, who begins his 6-year-old season with nine wins in 28 starts and earnings of $1,628,048, prevail again in the Whittingham, he would join John Henry as a three-time winner. John Henry won what was then called the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap in 1980, 1981 and as a 9-year-old in 1984.
Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who last rode May 19 due to weight issues, has the mount on Acclamation. He’s 2-for-2 with the bay, taking the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar prior to the Hirsch.
Winner of the Grade II San Marcos Stakes Feb. 11 at Santa Anita, Slim Shadey will be making his first local appearance for owner Phil Cunningham and trainer Simon Callaghan.
The 4-year-old gelded son of Val Royal and the Chief’s Crown mare Vino Veritas has won three of 18 and earned $347,600. In his most recent race, Slim Shadey was second behind gate-to-wire winner Little Mike in the Grade I Turf Classic on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 5 at Churchill Downs.
Utopian, who finished a head behind Slim Shadey when runner-up in the San Marcos, will stretch to 10 furlongs again after winning the Grade III Inglewood Handicap April 27.
Trained by John Shirreffs for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Utopian, a 5-year-old Rock Hard Ten horse out of the Storm Cat mare Storm Alert, has won three of 11. His bankroll is $183,180.
Juniper Pass has earned two of his four wins over the Betfair Hollywood Park grass. Owned by Robert and Betty Irvin and trained by Ray Bell, the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid and the Coronado’s Quest mare Child Bride has earned $292,375 in 14 starts. He’s a two-time Grade II winner, capturing the San Luis Rey Stakes and San Juan Capistrano Handicap in succession in 2011.
Make Music for Me will be looking for his first graded victory for owners Ellen and Peter Johnson, Sr. and trainer Alexis Barba. The 5-year-old Bernstein horse out of the Carson City mare Miss Cheers is 4-for-26 with earnings of $529,100. He led throughout in a $62,000 allowance in his first start of the Spring/Summer meet May 19.
Bred in Kentucky by Richard Shultz, Make Music for Me is no stranger to Grade I races. The Whittingham will be his eighth appearance in a Grade I. His best finish was a second behind Lookin At Lucky in the 2009 Del Mar Futurity.
Barney Rebel steps up after a half-length victory in an optional claimer April 22 at Santa Anita. The 4-year-old son of Holy Roman Emperor and the Indian Ridge mare Opera Ridge has won three of 11 and banked $68,569. Dan Blacker trains the Irish bred for Dan Capen.
From inside out, the field for the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap: Utopian, Joe Talamo rides, 117 pounds; Juniper Pass, Rafael Bejarano, 117; Barney Rebel, Eswan Flores, 114; Slim Shadey, David Flores, 120; Make Music for Me, Martin Garcia, 116 and Acclamation, Patrick Valenzuela, 124.
Lady of Shamrock, a three-time stakes winner during the Santa Anita Winter/Spring meet, will make her Betfair Hollywood Park debut in the Honeymoon.
Owned by Hronis Racing LLC and trained by John Sadler, Lady of Shamrock won the Blue Norther, China Doll and Grade III Providencia over the Arcadia grass. The daughter of Scat Daddy and the Blushing John mare Blushing Issue has won four of seven and earned $225,400. Lady of Shamrock has won three of four since being privately purchased by her current connections.
Seeking his first win in the Honeymoon, Sadler also entered Trois Aureole.
A private purchase by J.W. Singer LLC, the daughter of English Channel and the Saint Ballado mare Two Halos has won twice in four races and earned $61,296.
Her victories came against maidens March 22 at Santa Anita and in an optional claimer locally May 10.
My Gi Gi tries an additional eighth of a mile after missing by a nose in the Grade III Senorita Stakes May 5 in her first race for trainer Peter Eurton and a partnership that includes Dennis Conner and Lloyd DeBruycker.
A daughter of E Dubai and the Sadler’s Wells mare Relish the Thought, My Gi Gi has one win in six starts and earnings of $67,540.
Stormy Lucy returns to Southern California on a roll for owner Frank Gaunt and trainer Frank Lucarelli. The Stormy Atlantic filly out of the Dixieland Band mare Here Comes Lucinda has won three in a row at Golden Gate Fields, including the Golden Poppy on turf May 6.
Successful against $30,000 maiden claimers during the Autumn meet last Nov. 19, Stormy Lucy has won four of eight and earned $91,045.
Long Face stretches out once more for trainer Patrick Biancone after finishing off the board in an optional claimer at six furlongs May 5. The Whywhywhy filly out of the Seeking the Gold mare Louve Mysterieuse has won once in three outings for owner Robert Trussell, Jr. Long Face has banked $28,550.
From inside out, the field for the Honeymoon Handicap: Lady of Shamrock, Alonso Quinonez rides, 123 pounds; My Gi Gi, Rafael Bejarano, 116; Long Face, Victor Espinoza, 113; Stormy Lucy, Eswan Flores, 118 and Trois Aureole, 116.
Belloma, who won by a neck in her grass debut May 18, is among seven entered in the Manhattan Beach.
Owned by Judi Partridge and trained by Dan Hendricks, the daughter of Yankee Gentleman and the Wild Again mare Green Flash is 3-for-5 with earnings of $103,920.
The other members of the field coming off a win are Love My Girl, who defeated $20,000 maidens May 24 and was claimed by trainer Doug O’Neill for Kimberi Kenefsky and Vicki Dimitri and My Selection, who won an optional claimer over Cushion Track May 11 for owner Kaleem Shah and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
From inside out, the field for the Manhattan Beach Stakes: Byrama, Rafael Bejarano rides, 117 pounds; My Selection, Joe Talamo, 117; Belloma, Alonso Quinonez, 119; Lemon Hero, Garrett Gomez, 115; Dypsy, Edwin Maldonado, 117 and Love My Girl, Eswan Flores, 115.
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