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- Trainer: John Sadler
- Likely Jockey: Joel Rosario
- Owner: Hronis Racing, LLC
- Age & Breeding: 5yo h; Looking At Lucky – Issues (Awesome Again)
- Season Form Figures: 1112112
- Career Highlight: His Grade 1 three-peat in his most recent starts.
By Peter Fornatale
In market terms, Accelerate is strongly at the head of things for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, between 5-2 and 7-2 everywhere as I write this just a week before the race. So why is he so difficult to trust?
Let’s start with the positives. After disappointing in last year’s Dirt Mile, he has put together a solid season, never finishing out of the top two in seven starts dating back to his reappearance on Opening Day at Santa Anita on December 26th, 2017 and reeling off three G1 wins in a row. The best of those efforts, an absolute romp in the Pacific Classic where he earned a strong 115 Beyer Speed Figure, would certainly put him right there in the Classic. Even though seven starts in a campaign counts as a lot for a modern American thoroughbred, he was also given a summer break between his impressive win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita and the aforementioned Pacific Classic, meaning that in theory there should be a little more gas (should I say petrol?) in the tank.
The issues come down to two things and they are both significant. One is the last race, an uninspiring win in slow time in the Awesome Again at his home base of Santa Anita. He earned just a 100 Beyer, the type of number associated with a Grade 3 race, and he just didn’t impress the eyes. Fans can point out that he had a poor beginning and was wide throughout, though it was not a day on the Santa Anita oval where ground loss appeared to mean that much (the rail wasn’t the place to be). It’s possible that he regressed a bit off the big start back off the layoff and he’ll come on again to justify his place at the top of the market, or it’s possible that we’ve simply seen the best of him already and he’s ripe to be upset. I’m leaning towards the latter scenario.
After beating up on comparatively weak fields in California, he now has to travel to Kentucky to tackle a cast that will include several new rivals: McKinzie, West Coast, and Catholic Boy among them, not to mention Yoshida, Mendelssohn and probably Mind Your Biscuits. My enthusiasm – or lack thereof – for his ability to successful execute this task is colored by his trainer’s statistics. According to Daily Racing Form’s Formulator, John Sadler is just 1 for 15 when shipping to a major jurisdiction (New York, Kentucky, Florida) in the past five years, with only five of those running in the top three. The numbers when filtered for dirt are even worse: 0 for 11 with just two (!) in the money. Granted, one of those two was a good second in a Breeders’ Cup race -- Stellar Wind in the Distaff at Keeneland in 2015 – but still, when it comes to shipping and winning, it’s safe to say that John Sadler is no Bob Baffert.
In the Classic, Accelerate is going to have to have show his best form despite his most recent race being unimpressive, facing a tougher field, and in a category where his trainer struggles. He’s an obvious contender based on his body of work this season, but at the prices he’s a lay, not a back.