Saturday Stakes Recap

SATURDAY STAKES RECAP

It's Tricky wears down Plum Pretty in CCA Oaks

Five fillies broke from the gate in Saturday's $250,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga, but the final three furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile test wound up being a two-horse race. Urged on by jockey Eddie Castro around the far turn to keep pace with long-time leader Plum Pretty (Medaglia d'Oro), Godolphin Stables' IT'S TRICKY (Mineshaft) got within a half-length of that rival before falling back again at the top of the stretch. However, continued pressure from Castro kept It's Tricky in the game and the filly steadily wore down the 9-5 favorite, finally moving past her in the final sixteenth. The winning margin was three parts of a length for the 4-1 It's Tricky, who paid $10.60, $4.40 and $3.10.

Away forwardly outside Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Plum Pretty, It's Tricky settled in second down the backside while racing beside Buster's Ready (More Than Ready). Meanwhile, Plum Pretty was up by a length through splits of :23 4/5 and :47 2/5, then had It's Tricky a half-length behind after six furlongs in 1:11. Buster's Ready had already called it a day by that point, and Joyful Victory (Tapit) also began to fall back. Only 2-1 second choice Royal Delta (A.P. Indy), making her first start since the winning the Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) in May, was making up any ground from the back.

The separation from the rest of the field increased through the stretch as Plum Pretty clung to her lead while under urging from Martin Garcia. However, It's Tricky simply proved too much horse in the final stages of the Oaks, and she passed Plum Pretty en route to a final time of 1:49 over a fast track. Plum Pretty was 6 1/2 lengths clear of Royal Delta, who had 3 3/4 lengths on Buster's Ready. It was another seven lengths back to Joyful Victory.

'Around the three-eighths, I knew (Martin Garcia aboard Plum Pretty) had a lot of horse, too,' Garcia said. 'I had to put pressure and ride her really hard. When that filly came past her, she changed leads, and when I hit her left again she swung back again, she fought again.'

Godolphin endured a day of triumph and tragedy on Saturday. The win by It's Tricky was a welcome one for the stable, which saw its multiple Group 1 star Rewilding suffer a fatal injury earlier in the day in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. (Eng-G1) at Ascot in England.

It's Tricky made her initial three career starts at Aqueduct, breaking her maiden by 1 3/4 lengths on the main track in late November. She showed up a month later to take her sophomore bow against allowance rivals by 4 3/4 lengths on the inner dirt, then romped by eight lengths in her stakes debut in the Busher S. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin shipped her to Florida to try graded company in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), but the filly turned in her lone clunker to date when fourth, beaten 22 1/4 lengths. She got back on the winning track in the June 11 Acorn S. (G1), turning back multiple Grade 1 winner Turbulent Descent (Congrats) in the mud to win going away by 3 3/4 lengths. With five wins from six outings, It's Tricky has earned $438,000.

'She's obviously only had one defeat in her life. She's a very nice filly,' winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. 'She got beat in Florida, but the winner that day, R Heat Lightning (Trippi), was very impressive. We've always liked her and I thought she ran very well today.'

Bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, It's Tricky is out of Grade 3 winner Catboat (Tale of the Cat) and has an unnamed 2011 half-sister by Medaglia d'Oro. Catboat is herself a half-sibling to the stakes-placed pair of This Fleet is Due (Devil His Due) and Betty Garr (Out of Place).

It's Tricky's next start will likely be the August 20 Alabama S. (G1), a race her seventh dam, Lily White (*Easton), won in 1952.

Acclamation makes it three in a row in Eddie Read

After flirting with potential engagements in the July 9 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and last Sunday's Sunset H. (G3), streaking turf star ACCLAMATION (Unusual Heat) ultimately opted for Saturday's $300,000 Eddie Read S. (G1), and the Del Mar fixture turned out to be the right spot. After settling comfortably into his usual spot on the front end, the Donald Warren charge left his rivals flat-footed on the far turn and rolled to his third straight victory.

'Good call by the owner,' Warren said, referring to E.W. 'Bud' Johnston. 'I kind of wanted to stay in the Sunset. He wanted to go in this and it was a good call. The horse is really good; better now than ever. He looked awfully good out there and we are very pleased.'

Acclamation was coming off a pair of impressive title defenses in the June 11 Charles Whittingham Memorial H. (G1) and the May 14 Jim Murray H. (G2). Yet those came over longer distances at Hollywood Park, and judging by his tame sixth in last year's Eddie Read, it was an open question of whether he would be as effective going 1 1/8 miles on the Del Mar turf.

The betting public accordingly sent Acclamation off as the 3-1 third choice in the six-horse field, while siding with 3-2 favorite Caracortado (Cat Dreams). The two were also matched in Del Mar's first-ever 'head-to-head' wager, but Caracortado didn't get close enough to threaten when the real running started.

Ironically, the late-running Caracortado broke sharply and found himself in front in the opening strides. But Acclamation soon strode forward for Joel Rosario, and with the withdrawal of likely pace rival Celtic Princess (Brz) (Public Purse), he didn't have to work to secure the lead.

Acclamation rattled off even splits of :24 1/5, :48 2/5 and 1:12 1/5, and Jeranimo (Congaree) was the only rival to try to apply pressure down the backstretch. Smart Bid (Smart Strike) tracked in third, and Caracortado eased back into fourth.

By injecting a serious change of pace on the far turn, Acclamation broke the race open and never looked like being caught. The bay stormed clear through one mile in 1:35 2/5 and widened his advantage to 3 1/4 lengths at the wire, finishing in 1:46 4/5 on the firm course. Acclamation furnished his loyalists with payouts of $8.40, $4 and $3.

'He was very comfortable today,' Rosario said. '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 Murray) up at Hollywood. He ran the same way that day. So relaxed.'

'He (Joel Rosario) 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.'

Jeranimo held second by a half-length from Caracortado, who nosed out Smart Bid for third. Leroy's Dynameaux (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) checked in another 3 1/4 lengths away in fifth, and Goldwaki (Ger) (Dalakhani) was tailed off in last. Kid Edward (Ire) (Singspiel [Ire]) was scratched along with Celtic Princess.
Campaigned by Peter and Mary Hilvers and E.W. and Judy Johnston, Acclamation improved his scorecard to 26-7-2-6, $938,048. The five-year-old is in the form of his life at present. Earlier in his career, he had run well at the graded level without managing to win, finishing third in the 2009 Hollywood Derby (G1), Del Mar Derby (G2) and San Gabriel H. (G2), as well as the 2010 Strub S. (G2). He was also second in the 2009 Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational H.

Acclamation really blossomed once stepped up in distance for the 2010 Jim Murray and followed up in the Whittingham, but failed to transfer his sparkling Hollywood form on the road. Last summer, he shipped to Monmouth for the United Nations S. (G1), where he retreated to last of nine, and checked in sixth when shortening up for the Eddie Read. Freshened for seven months, Acclamation returned with a creditable fifth in the March 5 Frank E. Kilroe Mile H. (G1) at Santa Anita, beaten only three lengths. He tried another foray, this time to the April 16 Charles Town Classic (G3), but never landed a blow during his wide trip and trailed home 10th in the slop. He hasn't lost since returning to turf.

Bred by Johnston's Old English Rancho in California, Acclamation is the last registered foal from the unraced Winning in Style (Silveyville), who is also responsible for the stakes-placed pair of Strut Your Stuff (Bold Badgett) and Always in Style (Lucayan Prince). Another of Acclamation's half-siblings, Flying in Style (Flying Sensation), is the dam of 2007 Derby Trial S. winner, Flying First Class (Perfect Mandate). This is the family of Grade 3 victor and multiple Grade 1-placed Stylish Winner (Obraztsovy), and further back, multiple stakes queen Fleet Treat (Fleet Nasrullah). Multiple Grade 1 star and $2.3 million-earner Marlin (Sword Dance [Ire]) descends from another productive branch of this female line.

Johnston indicated after the race that Acclamation would next contest the 1 3/8-mile Del Mar H. (G2) on August 28, a 'Win and You're In' race for his ultimate goal, the November 5 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs.

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