DEL MAR, CA – Less than a month after finishing last of 11 California-breds going 1 1/16 miles over this very same course, Acclimate made every step a winning one in Saturday’s $250,000 Del Mar Handicap Presented by The Japan Racing Association (G2) at Del Mar.

The Del Mar Handicap is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Acclimate receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Turf at Santa Anita Park this November.

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Jockey Florent Geroux hustled Acclimate quickly as he broke from the far outside post 9 at 7/1 odds, allowing him to successfully clear his inner foes before he entered the far turn for the first time. Given permission from the field to be lone speed on the front end, Acclimate posted uncontested fractions of :24.12, :47.70, 1:11.97, and 1:36.15 for the opening mile.

Heading into the far turn for the second time, Ritzy A. P. and Itsinthepost made bids for the lead, but Acclimate spurned their advances before they could collar him. Turning for home with a now-growing advantage, Acclimate proved too tough in the stretch and could not be caught. The Phil D’Amato trainee completed the 1 3/8-mile event over the firm turf course in 2:12.71 while finishing a length clear.

“It worked out very well,” said Geroux, who two months ago shipped to Santa Anita Park and pulled off a very similar gate-to-wire upset aboard Bolo in the Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1), a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the TVG Mile. “The horse was sharp. He went to the front easily and he ran relaxed all the way.”

Oscar Dominguez closed the most ground of anyone in the stretch, getting up for second by a length over Ritzy A. P., while Blended Citizen was a neck behind in fourth. The 9/5 favorite The Great Day was stuck between horses in the far turn and lacked the necessary kick to close once space became available in the stretch. He nosed out Itsinthepost for fifth, while Marckie’s Water was a length back in seventh to complete the order of finish.

Arizona Moon and the 3/1 morning line favorite United were scratched.

Acclimate’s win was his second at the graded stakes level, having taken the 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park before his dud last time out in the California Dreamin’ Stakes. The 5-year-old gelded son of Acclamation improved his career mark to 16-6-1-2 with $325,872 earned for co-owners The Ellwood Johnson Trust and Timmy Time Racing.

“He had been breezing up a storm, so I knew he was in good form,” said D’Amato, who has now won five of the last six editions. “But you’re up against a lot of nice horses and it’s great that he proved the best today.”

Acclimate returned $16.60 to win, $8 to place, and $6 to show. Oscar Dominguez brought back $11.40 to place and $6.20 to show, while Ritzy A. P. paid $6.20 to show.