Awesome Vision Returns to NYRA Circuit
July 27, 2014 10:32am
Saratoga Race Course 2014.
Photo: chelsea durand, NYRA
Having run up against dominant New York-bred Zivo all winter and spring, trainer Tom Albertrani took Awesome Vision to the Finger Lakes for a little holiday getaway.


With Zivo looking ahead to a possible start in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Whitney, Awesome Vision returns to the NYRA circuit as part of a balanced field in the 31st running of the $100,000 Evan Shipman for 3-year-olds and up on Thursday at Saratoga Race Course.


The 1 1/8-mile Evan Shipman attracted a field of eight older horses for the first of 10 stakes restricted to New York-breds on the Saratoga calendar.


Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Awesome Vision was second by a nose as the favorite in his most recent effort, the Genesee Valley Breeders' Stakes on July 4. The 1 1/16-mie dirt race was the 11th straight state-bred stakes for the 5-year-old son of Awesome Again and fourth this year. He finished the previous three behind Zivo, unbeaten in five 2014 starts.


"We've been running against Zivo and facing some other pretty tough horses, but his last race was a little bit of a class relief and hopefully a confidence booster coming into the Evan Shipman," Albertrani said. "He ran well in this race last year, and he's been training really well. He seems to like it up here, and hopefully we can start turning things around with him."


Awesome Vision is the only horse in the Evan Shipman with more than one win at the race's nine furlongs, going 2-1-0 in four career tries. He also owns a win and a second in two tries at Saratoga, having taken the Saratoga Sunrise last August after finishing a head behind Bigger Is Bettor in the Evan Shipman.


"Distance-wise, it looks like he likes two turns," said Albertrani. "For some reason, Belmont never was his best track to run over. He really seems to like it up here. We've always had this race in the back of our minds.


"One of the other reasons we went to Finger Lakes was there was just really nothing for the horse and that race actually worked out nicely, timing-wise. If you watch the slow motion, it actually looked like he got a nose in front but I guess the wire was very deceiving. We were happy to see him run well. He's been a maybe a little bit below his best before the race, but he ran well and hopefully we can come right back and bounce out of that race and into this one."


Trainer John Kimmel returns Sailmate to stakes competition for the first time since finishing third in the 2012 Empire Classic. Since then, the 6-year-old son of Grade 1 winner Friends Lake has one win in 10 starts, all but two of them in open company, to go along with three seconds and three thirds.


"He's always been a consistent horse. He goes out and gives a good effort every time," said Kimmel. "It looks like a pretty evenly matched group of horses. He's been running good, and hopefully he works out a good trip. I think he's going to have a shot in the race."


Sailmate beat last year's Albany winner Escapefromreality in a second-level allowance going one mile on May 23, and most recently was third to Big Business in a non-winners of three at the same distance on June 28, each at Belmont Park. Big Business and Escapefromreality both return in the Evan Shipman.


"He won the two-other-than and he ran into Big Business in the three-other-than and Big Business ran a bang-up race that day," said Kimmel. "We're going to a two-turn event and I'm not sure that Big Business has shown anything at two turns, so it'll be a new thing for him.  


"I don't think a mile and an eighth is out of [Sailmate's] realm. He's a late runner, so hopefully there will be enough speed up front that maybe could soften up Big Business on the front end. I think he's doing well. He's been training really well and he's a very happy horse."


Trained by David Jacobson for Gary Barber, Big Business has 10 wins from 26 lifetime starts and has earned more than $500,000 but has yet to earn his first stakes victory. He romped in a one-mile optional claiming allowance at Belmont Park by 7 ¼ lengths in front-running fashion.


Escapefromreality has three wins in four lifetime starts against fellow state-breds, going gate to wire to capture the 1 1/8-mile Albany at Saratoga last summer. Second to Grade 1 winner Revolutionary in the Grade 3 Withers last February, he returned from a nine-month layoff to finish second by a neck behind Sailmate in May.


Also entered in the Evan Shipman were Fox Rules and Moneyinyourpocket, who were first and fourth, respectively, in the Genesee Valley Breeders' Stakes; 2014 Kings Point runner-up Sinistra; and Beautyinthepulpit, come-from-behind winner of a nine-furlong optional claiming allowance at Saratoga on July 20.



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