Iconic Turf fixture to be run for the first time and will feature a hillside start
ARCADIA, Calif.—Fresh of a big second at a mile and one quarter on turf, trainer Phil D’Amato’s Acclimate heads a field of six three year olds and up going a mile and three quarters on turf in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 San Juan Capistrano Stakes at Santa Anita. 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.
Also meriting major consideration are fellow California-bred gelding Ward ’n Jerry, a recent winner of a 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 in the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes on May 29.
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 in the Whittingham and ended up second, beaten a head by the David Hofmans-trained Award Winner, when ridden for the first time by Ricky Gonzalez.
Juan Hernandez, the meet’s second leading rider, will take over for the first time on Saturday. Acclimate, who took the 2019 San Juan Capistrano running in gate to wire fashion in combination with the now-departed Martin Garcia will be making his second appearance in the San Juan. Owned by the Ellwood Johnston Family Trust, Timmy Time Racing, LLC and Ken Tevelde, Acclimate was bred in-part by the Johnston family’s Old English Rancho. A two-time graded stakes winner he is 24-6-4-4 and has 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 mile and one quarter starter allowance on Feb. 20 and stretched out to a half length score in a mile and one half 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 man Flavien Prat and will no doubt take some beating on Saturday. With an overall mark of 27-8-2-4, he has earnings of $468,259.
A 4 ¼ length winner of last year’s San Juan and a close third in the 2019 running, Red King, who got the jump on highly accomplished United in taking the Grade II Del Mar Handicap five starts back on Aug. 22, 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 Phillip Belmonte, Red King, who is 32-7-4-9 with earnings of $471,755, is trained by meet-leader Phil D’Amato, who holds a 46-42 edge over Peter Miller with three days remaining.
THE GRADE III SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO Race 11 of 11 Approximate post time 6:00 p.m. PT
1. Lure Him In – Edwin Maldonado – 122
2. Red King – Umberto Rispoli – 124
3. Ward ‘n Jerry – Flavien Prat – 122
4. Acclimate – Ricardo Gonzalez – 122
5. Pillar Mountain – Joe Bravo – 122
6. Astronaut – Victor Espinoza – 122
First post time for an 11-race card that will also include three other stakes, is at 1 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Acclimate, (Benoit)