By Emily Shields
Accelerate looks to make it five grade 1 victories in a row as he headlines the $9 million Pegasus World Cup on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. It will be his second battle of the week, as he first has to face Triple Crown winner Justify in the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night; the two horses are in a tight battle for 2018 Horse of the Year. After that, Accelerate has one final start of his glossy career, which to date features eight graded stakes wins.
Pros: Hronis Racing’s Accelerate is a six-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky. He has always been classy, winning three in a row in 2016 when he broke his maiden and then added both the Shared Belief Stakes and the Los Alamitos Derby (G2) in succession. He was third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) in only his seventh start, but remained just under the radar until he thrashed superstar Arrogate in the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar in July, 2017.
Since then, Accelerate has been a standout in the older male division. Trainer John Sadler campaigned him to six stakes victories in seven 2018 starts, topped by the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). His campaign has sealed him the Eclipse Award as Champion Older Male, and secured a stud deal with Lane’s End Farm where he will retire immediately following Saturday’s race. In the last year, Accelerate has won two different graded stakes at the 1 1/8 mile distance of the Pegasus, and can come from off the pace or be on the lead if needed.
Cons: With 10 wins and 20 top three finishes in 22 starts for earnings of over $5.7 million, Accelerate will be 9-5 on the morning line to finish his career in style. He has only shipped to run outside of California twice in his career, once in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas where he finished second, and once to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
That loss at Oaklawn came to Pegasus World Cup rival City of Light, who is coming off his own Breeders’ Cup win and is doing quite well heading into the $9 million matchup.
Will Accelerate throw in his first poor effort since November, 2017? Will he be the third consecutive favorite to win the Pegasus?
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