Acclimate Heads Unusual Heat Turf Classic at Santa Anita

Acclimate and jockey Florent Geroux win the Grade II $250,000 Del Mar Handicap Saturday, August 17, 2019 at the Del Mar.   ©Benoit Photo

By Byron King Courtesy of (January 15, 2021) – Santa Anita Park’s 10-race card Jan. 16 lacks graded stakes, but not graded stakes winners.

Five stakes for California-breds attracted sizable fields that drew graded winners Warren’s Showtime, who races in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Stakes Presented by John Deere, and Marckie’s Water, Ward ‘n Jerry, and Acclimate in the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic Presented by City National Bank.

Complimenting those stakes is the $200,000 California Cup Derby for 3-year-olds, in which The Chosen Vron, a runaway winner of his debut Dec. 27 at Santa Anita, takes on more seasoned foes while stretching out to 1 1/16 miles.

The California Cup Derby and its sister race, the $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks at a mile on turf, will be contested with treatment of Lasix prohibited. The diuretic—used to control respiratory bleeding in horses but being phased out in some jurisdictions, including California—is permitted in the three stakes for older California-breds, the last of which is the $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint. All but one of Saturday’s older stakes competitors will race with Lasix.

Although Marckie’s Water, Ward ‘n Jerry, and Acclimate are graded winners now competing with state-bred rivals, the Unusual Heat Turf Classic is a competitive race. Margot’s Boy, Indian Peak, and Heck Yeah are other leading contenders.

Acclimate, a close fourth after a layoff of more than a year in the Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes (G2T) Nov. 27 at Del Mar, is the probable favorite. The speedy 7-year-old gelded son of Acclamation won the Del Mar Handicap Presented by the Japan Racing Association (G2T) in 2019 and was later second in the John Henry Turf Championship Stakes (G2T) and ninth in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) that year.

Earlier in 2019, he won the San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3T) at Santa Anita.

Tyler Baze is aboard the frontrunner for trainer Phil D’Amato and owners The Ellwood Johnston Trust, Timmy Time Racing, and Ken Tevelde.

Acclimate appears to have caught a field with an above-average amount of pace for a 1 1/8-mile turf race.