ARCADIA, Calif. -- What failed on the backstretch worked in the homestretch for Accelerate in Saturday's Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita.
Accelerate found racing room on the rail.
Accelerate was checked in traffic with about five furlongs remaining. Despite the trouble, jockey Victor Espinoza kept Accelerate on the inside and found sufficient space on the inside with more than a furlong remaining.
Accelerate quickened away from eight rivals through the stretch to win the $201,380 San Pasqual Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over 15-1 Prime Attraction.
"I had to take my time for the safety of the horse," Espinoza said.
"I went in there and it got tight. I thought, this is not good."
Accelerate left Espinoza impressed with his rally. Accelerate ($9.40) ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.58.
"When he's feeling good -- some days he doesn't want to perform -- he can be really good," Espinoza said.
Prime Attraction, who won the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes at Del Mar in November, closed from sixth with a wide rally to finish second.
"He ran super," trainer Jim Cassidy said. "I thought we'd get there. If Victor doesn't get through on the rail, we might have gotten there."
Mubtaahij, the winner of the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes here in September, finished third, followed by Pavel, Top of the Game, Irish Freedom, The Lieutenant, Ike Walker, and Win the Space.
Mubtaahij and Top of the Game were near the front early through a slow pace of 24.34 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.94 for a half-mile. Mubtaahij led on the turn, but could not sustain the advantage.
While Accelerate overcame trouble to win, other runners were not as fortunate. Pavel, the winner of the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx last September, raced in traffic in early stretch and was beaten 4 1/2 lengths as the 2-1 favorite.
Accelerate won his third stakes in the San Pasqual. Owned by Pete and Kosta Hronis and trained by John Sadler, Accelerate won the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Derby in September 2016 and the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar last July, beating a field that included Arrogate, the winner of the 2017 Dubai World Cup.
Last fall, Accelerate was ninth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar.
A 5-year-old by Lookin At Lucky, Accelerate has won 5 of 16 starts and earned $907,480.