In a year with a rare Triple Crown winner, Hronis Racing’s Accelerate made his own case for Horse of the Year with a one-length victory in the 35th running of the $5,358,000 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs. In doing so, the handsome son of Lookin’ at Lucky gave trainer John Sadler his very first win on Racing’s Championship Day from 44 previous starters and also an initial win for his owners, Kosta and Pete Hronis.
As the lukewarm favorite at more than 5-2 under jockey Joel Rosario, Accelerate paid $7.40, $6 and $4.40. Gunnevera, a 30-1 outsider in the field of 14, was worth $21.80 and $11.80. Thunder Snow checked in third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up and was good for $8 at 14-1. Yoshida, Mendelssohn, Lone Sailor, West Coast, Discreet Lover, Axelrod, Pavel, Mind Your Biscuits, McKinzie, Catholic Boy and Roaring Lion rounded out the order of finish.
“I think he’s done something no one else has done, he swept the California Grade 1s,” co-owner Kosta Hronis said. “He’s undefeated at the mile and a quarter. I think today, they’ve been saying all along that, he had to win the Classic to be in the conversation. He won the Classic, and then I read somewhere where it said maybe he did this all on the wrong year, but maybe Justify won the Triple Crown in the wrong year, I don’t know.
“This horse is special. He’s showed up every time. He’s danced every dance. He’s been solid. This is Horse of the Year. It’s a body of work, and what he has done in the last 12 months, I think he’s well deserved to be of that honor. There’s no doubt.
“He ran a great race and Joel [Rosario] rode him perfectly,” Sadler said. “We were really thrilled. He did such a good job, kept him clear.
“This year at five he seems like he’s more ready to go those long distances. He has a great constitution because he needs a lot of training to run in those races. He’s been able to run in them, pull up good, continued to train hard and keep going. So it’s a tribute to him at five.”
The Southern California-based conditioner said that Accelerate will likely get the remainder of the year off and be pointed to the Pegasus World Cup (GI) at Gulfstream Park in January.
Five-year-old Accelerate, who is out of the Awesome Again mare Issues, was a $380,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase in 2014. Overall he’s amassed a record of 22-10-5-5, $5,72,480. He won this year’s Santa Anita Handicap (GI), Gold Cup at Santa Anita (GI), Pacific Classic (GI) and Awesome Again Stakes (GI), and won three other graded stakes.
Accelerate completed the 1 ¼ miles over Churchill’s fast main track in 2:02.93.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law in Kentucky known as the “Borell Law.”Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time.She lives in Robinson, Texas, with her longtime beau, Tony. She is the executive director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue, The Bridge Sanctuary.