Fresh off a fine second in the 1 1/4-mile Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2T), Acclimate stretches out to race 1 3/4 miles on turf against five rivals in the $100,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3T) June 19 at Santa Anita Park.
A traditional closing-day feature for decades, the iconic San Juan will be run for the 81st time on the penultimate day of Santa Anita’s 78-day Winter/Spring Meeting and will feature a traditional hillside turf start. Both Acclimate and another entrant, Red King , are past winners of the race.
Heading Acclimate’s opposition is fellow California-bred gelding Ward ‘n Jerry , a recent winner of two starter allowance marathons on turf and Red King, a runaway winner of last year’s San Juan Capistrano who most recently finished a half-length behind the top selection when third in the Charles Whittingham May 29 after a slow start.
A 7-year-old California-bred gelding by Acclamation , out of the Boundary mare Knows No Bounds , Acclimate opened up by three lengths after the first half-mile under Ricky Gonzalez in the Whittingham and nearly held on, beaten a head by Award Winner . The latter does not race in the San Juan Capistrano.
Gonzalez will be on board again Saturday from post 4.
The Phil D’Amato trainee, who took the 2019 San Juan Capistrano running in gate-to-wire fashion, will be making his second appearance in the San Juan. Owned by the Ellwood Johnston Trust, Timmy Time Racing, and Ken Tevelde, Acclimate was bred by the Johnston family’s Old English Rancho along with Sal and Patsy Berumen. A two-time graded stakes winner he is 6-4-4 in 24 starts with earnings of $497,872.
Head and head for the early lead in last year’s San Juan, Ward ‘n Jerry ended up third, beaten five lengths by Red King. An 8-year-old gelding by Lucky Pulpit , Ward ‘n Jerry appears on edge for trainer Mike Puype, as he rallied for a sharp head victory in a 1 1/4-mile starter allowance Feb. 20 and stretched out to a half-length score in a 1 1/2-mile turf starter allowance March 20.
Owned and bred in California by Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams, Ward ‘n Jerry, who is out of the Dehere mare Tamarack Bay , will be ridden for the fourth consecutive time by leading jockey Flavien Prat. The veteran has made $468,259 in winning eight of 27 races.
A 4 1/4-length winner of last year’s San Juan Capistrano and a close third in 2019, Red King, who got the jump on highly accomplished United in taking the Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association (G2T) last August, has plenty of class and the return services of regular rider Umberto Rispoli. A 7-year-old full horse by English Channel , Red King would relish a fast pace as he seeks his second San Juan win in what will be his third appearance.
Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Gordon Jacobsen, and Philip Belmonte, Red King is also trained by D’Amato. D’Amato is the meet’s leading trainer heading into the final week of the current season, holding a 46-42 edge over Peter Miller.