Amberjack Seeks Big Apple Triple Sweep, $250k Bonus in Albany
By Jon Forbes | 08/17/2013 04:23 PM ET
Amberjack will attempt to complete a rare sweep of the Big Apple Triple and earn a $250,000 bonus when he competes in the $150,000 Albany on Wednesday at Saratoga Race Course.
The 1 1/8-mile Albany is the third and final leg of the Big Apple Triple, a three-race series for 3-year-old New York-breds. Amberjack is eligible for the $250,000 bonus, having already won the Mike Lee on June 1 at Belmont Park and the New York Derby on July 20 at Finger Lakes. Only one horse, Tin Cup Chalice in 2008, has swept the series.
Amberjack won a single race in three starts for trainer Dale Romans before he was transferred to Michael Hushion by John Fort's Peachtree Stable. In his debut for Hushion, Amberjack posted a half-length victory under a hand ride in May at Belmont.
Cut back in distance for the seven-furlong Mike Lee, Amberjack rallied from fifth and posted 1 ¾-length victory. He had no problem negotiating two turns in the 1 1/16-mile New York Derby, tracking the pace and drawing clear in the stretch en route to a 6 ½-length triumph.
"When you win the Mike Lee, everyone thinks about [a Big Apple Triple] possibility," said Hushion. "We thought he wanted to go longer, so we certainly felt like we had a chance. I think he'll show up and run his race [in the Albany]."
The Albany will be Amberjack's first start at 1 1/8 miles.
"Amberjack worked [four furlongs in 50.93 seconds on Thursday], and that went well," said Hushion. "[Jockey] Junior Alvarado was on him again, and he was very comfortable. He worked like the same horse he's been all along. I think the extra sixteenth of a mile will be to our advantage."
Alvarado, aboard Amberjack in the Mike Lee, will ride the Indygo Shiner colt from post position 4. Amberjack was installed as the 4-5 favorite on the morning line.
Escapefromreality, second by a neck to Revolutionary after leading in the stretch of the Grade 3 Withers in February at Aqueduct Racetrack, seeks his first stakes win in the Albany.
After the Withers, Escapefromreality finished ninth in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Gotham in March following a rough trip. Trainer Dominick Schettino and owners MeB Racing Stables and Brooklyn Boyz Stables elected to give Escapefromreality some time off following the Gotham, and the move paid off when the gelding returned to post a 3 ½-length, gate-to-wire victory in a seven-furlong optional claimer for New York-breds on July 4 at Belmont.
"He has the talent, so I'm expecting him to run a big race," said Schettino. "I threw out [the Gotham]. [The Withers] probably took a little out of him and I probably ran him back a little too soon. I gave him a break and freshened him up, and he won that race on July 4 pretty impressively. He's doing everything right. He'll do whatever you ask him - he'll go the lead, he'll sit off. He's very versatile."
Escapefromreality, the 7-2 morning-line second choice, will depart from post 3 with Javier Castellano aboard.
The Albany field also includes Smooth Bert and Go Get the Basil, second and fourth, respectively, in the New York Derby; Seventy Six, who won an optional claimer for New York-breds on July 12 at Belmont; and the coupled entry of Ego Friendly and In Harm's Way.
The field for the $150,000 Albany (NYB):