Accelerate proved himself a champion once and for all with another topnotch performance on Saturday. This time it came on the grand stage of Churchill Downs and the richest race of all the World Championships. His victory from the far outside post in the Breeders’ Cup Classic was a culmination of a sensational season, and planned to be the penultimate performance of a fantastic career.
Accelerate was not the only one to enjoy a much deserved coming out party in the Classic. From owner Hronis Racing, to trainer John Sadler, and jockey Joel Rosario, this was truly a moment of a lifetime. Can you imagine winning such a race? We at Derby Day Racing sure can. Yes, we dream big here, but there is more reason for excitement. Accelerate just happens to have a whole lot in common with our beautiful juvenile filly, Sooner Schooner.
For starters, they share a sire. Lookin At Lucky became the newest stallion to crack America’s Top 10 sire’s list when Accelerate cruised to the finish line a decisive winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. A two-time Eclipse Award winner himself, the 11-year-old son of Smart Strike continues to impress at stud.
Standing at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, Breeders’ Cup Saturday was undoubtedly his top day so far of a blossoming stallion career. Not only did Accelerate win the big one, but his daughter Wow Cat came rallying strongly up the rail to finish a solid second behind Monomoy Girl in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Their sire, Lookin At Lucky, is not the only thing Sooner Schooner has in common with Accelerate. On the female side, they both share a strong influence of both Canadian and American racing royalty. While the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero is out of an Awesome Again mare, our filly is by an Archer’s Bay mare. Both broodmare sires were Queen’s Plate winners, in 1997 and 1998 respectively. More importantly, they are also both decedents of the champion, Deputy Minister, one as a son, and one as a grandson. Deputy Minister, himself was a grandson of the great Northern Dancer.
Further similarities include the Hall of Famer, Damascus. Both Sooner Schooner and Accelerate have the all-time great in the same place, four generations deep on their female side. Finally, they are also both produced by mares inbred to Northern Dancer, likely the greatest North American sire influence of modern racing.
Yes, it’s easy to see why we loved the pedigree of Sooner Schooner right from the outset, and why we love it even more after the sensational season of Accelerate.
Accelerate was a good 3-year-old, better at four, but it was not until his 5-year-old season when he fully displayed just what kind of racehorse he really was, just barely missing out on a perfect year in seven starts. Of his six clear-cut victories in 2018, the first came in a Grade 2, while the final five were all Grade 1 wins. In sweeping the Santa Anita Handicap, Gold Cup at Santa Anita, Pacific Classic, and Awesome Again, he won all of the most important races for older horses in California. And of course, this past weekend at Churchill Downs, he strode home victorious in the biggest prize of all in America racing open to older horses.
In two months Accelerate will officially be named a champion, and on top of that, he could well become the first horse in modern racing to deny a Triple Crown winner the honor of Horse of the Year. The winner of nearly $5.8 million will also enter the starting gate one more time, as the favorite for the $9 million Pegasus World Cup in January, before retiring to stud at Lane’s End Farm.
As for Sooner Schooner, her story has yet to unfold. She has not yet made it to the winner’s circle, and in fact, she has only run but once. That one came in a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs. In what was planned as a learning experience for the May foal, she got that and more.
A bit fractious in the paddock, on a warm and noisy night at Churchill, the Buff Bradley-trained filly was crunched at the start and never really got a chance to show what she could do. While the winner of the race went on to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, Sooner Schooner was back at the farm recovering from a wrenched ankle suffered in the race.
She’s just now getting back into training, and will be soon headed to New Orleans for the winter. There’s no rush to get her back to the races. We’ll let her tell us when she’s ready to go again. After all, much like the Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Sooner Schooner will only get better with age.
It may still seem miles away, but we here at Derby Day Racing have ultimate faith in our filly. A beautiful long striding daughter of Lookin At Lucky, who has plenty in common with the current best dirt horse in the world.