Hall of Fame Trainer Allen Jerkens, 83,
has won 3,833 races in his career, but none stands out as much as when he
saddled Onion to an upset victory over Secretariat in the 1973 Whitney
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
On Whitney Day in 2012, Jerkens added to his legacy by sending out
Emma’s Encore to a nose victory in the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress, a
six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.
“Like the old days,” said Jerkens, who wept following the
Prioress, his first graded stakes win at Saratoga
since Any Limit captured the 2008 Grade 2 Honorable Miss and his first Grade 1
since Miss Shop landed the 2007 Personal Ensign at the Spa.
After leaving from post position 1, Emma’s Encore trailed the
field by 7 ½ lengths at the first call as favored Agave Kiss ran the opening
quarter mile in 22.15 seconds while racing clear on the lead. Emma’s
Encore began to unwind a furious rally under jockey Junior Alvarado midway on
the far turn, hooking to the far outside in upper stretch and nipping Judy the
Beauty, who had claimed the lead only a few strides before the wire.
It was the second straight graded stakes score for Emma’s Encore,
who upset the Grade 3 Victory Ride at 39-1 on July 7 at Belmont Park.
“After she won the Victory Ride, I was really confident in her,”
said Alvarado. “She broke really good again. I got her to settle and feel
comfortable in the race. We tried to save ground because I knew we were going
to be running late. Turning for home, she was moving, but we were wider than I
wanted to be. She gave me a really nice kick at the end. She ran really hard to
win that race. Approaching the wire, I knew we had it. These last two races
have really worked out well for us.”
Emma’s Encore, who paid $12.40 as the 5-1 co-third choice in the
Victory Ride, completed six furlongs in 1:09.35. She races for owners Brenda
Mercer and Peter A. Berglar.
“I think she improved a little [from the Grade 3 Victory
Ride],” said Jerkens. “She had to run her very best. [Junior
Alvarado] has been good. It all counts. Everything has to go well. The horse
has to run good, the horse has to be good, has to be fit enough. She really had
to run today. Nothing was in her favor today, looking at the late scratch. It
looked like speed was holding on pretty good.”
After going winless in three 2011 starts, Emma’s Encore arrived
in Jerkens’ barn, and since the switch she has posted a record of 4-1-1
in seven starts. The Prioress win, worth $180,000, pushed her career earnings
Purse money, however, wasn’t what was on Jerkens’ mind in
the moments following the Prioress.
“We get to have a [painted] jockey [statue] in front of the
clubhouse,” said Jerkens. “I always liked to get a jockey in front
of the clubhouse.”
Emma’s Encore, who sold for $2,000 as a yearling, is a daughter
of Congrats and was bred in Florida
by Equest Thoroughbreds.
The Prioress marked the second straight defeat for third-place finisher
Agave Kiss, who was fifth in the Victory Ride after opening her career with six
straight wins, including the Grade 3 Cicada at Aqueduct Racetrack in March.
“I think she ran the way she wanted
to run,” said Agave Kiss’s trainer, Rudy Rodriguez. “Maybe
the other horse [winner Emma’s Encore] is a little bit better than her
right now. Maybe the heat took something out of her. We scoped her [after the
Victory Ride] and she came back nice and clean. You always want to win, but she
ran the way we wanted her to run and came back OK.”
Jazzy Idea, Livi Makenzie, and Tu Endie Wei completed the order of
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese