The hard-knocking 8-year-old gelding Acclimatized added to his slew of California stakes scores in battling to a frontrunning triumph in the $126,000 San Luis Rey Stakes (G3T) March 12 at Santa Anita Park.
“It’s unbelievable; he might be 8 years old but he gets better every day. His dad (Cheer) did the same thing and he’s in good shape. We love the breeds,” said part-owner and breeder Judy Johnston. “It’s very exciting. We breed them, we bring them into the world and race them, and this horse is just exceptionally good. We’re very pleased with him.”
With the scratches of morning-line favorite Say the Word who defeated Acclimate by a length in the Nov. 26 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (G2T), and graded stakes winner Award Winner the distance-loving Acclimate was bet down as the even-money favorite in Saturday’s 1 1/2-mile turf test.
As per the norm for the bay gelding, Acclimate and his regular companion Ricky Gonzalez strode to the front and dictated the pace from start to finish. Virtually unchallenged down the backside, Acclimate sailed through opening splits of :25.08 and :48.26, increasing his advantage to four lengths as he winged past the six-furlong marker in 1:12.32. After cutting the corner into the stretch, he was challenged by Current and Dicey Mo Chara but responded willingly to Gonzalez down the lane, digging deep and maintaining a narrow advantage over a stubborn Dicey Mo Chara to the wire.
Although Acclimate drifted out slightly into Dicey Mo Chara in the final sixteenth, the order of finish stood. Acclimate prevailed by a half-length over that rival, with Current another 3 1/2 lengths back in third to complete the trifecta.
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Owned in partnership by The Ellwood Johnston Trust, Timmy Time Racing, Brooke and Ryan Bartlett, Michael Goritz, and Kenneth Tevelde and trained by Philip D’Amato, Acclimate raced the 1 1/2-miles on a firm turf course in 2:25.40 . He paid $4.20 for a $2 win ticket.
“That’s what he likes to do, go out there and be happy on the lead, so I just let him do what he likes to do,” said Gonzalez. “As soon as he felt (Dicey Mo Chara) on his hip he dug in and showed how big his heart is.”
The venerable gelding registered his fourth career graded stakes victory in the San Luis Rey after taking two editions (2019, 2021) of the San Luis Capistrano Stakes (G3T) as well as the 2019 Del Mar Handicap presented by the Japan Racing Association (G2T) . He has bankrolled $763,372 in his 31-race career.
“This horse is always there, he likes those dog fights,” said D’Amato. “I would say the San Juan Capistrano (G3T at 1 3/4 miles on turf June 19) is probably the most logical next step.”
A son of California star and 2011 champion older horse Acclamation , Acclimate was bred in California by Old English Rancho and Sal and Patsy Berumen. He is the only stakes winner produced from the Boundary mare Knows No Bounds who has four winners from six offspring to race.