Sean Avery Holds Off Trappe Shot in Vanderbilt

Sean Avery (no. 6), ridden by Joe Bravo and trained by Allen Iwinski, wins the 27th running of the grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap for three year olds and upward on August 7, 2011 at Saratoga Race Track in Saratoga Springs, New York. (Bob Mayberger/Eclipse Sportswire)
Sean Avery shot to the lead and kept Trappe Shot’s stretch run in check to post a 17-1 upset in the Grade 1, $250,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course.


Seeking his fourth victory in five 2011 starts, Sean Avery was sent to the lead by jockey Joe Bravo, maintained a clear advantage through fractions of 21.91 and 44.56, was put to a drive as odds-on favorite Trappe Shot commenced his stretch run, and got his nose down at the right moment to register the upset score.


Sean Avery, named for the New York Rangers left winger, paid $36.20 for a $2 win wager and completed six furlongs in 1:09.71.


“He kind of relaxed out there and he was all by himself,” said Bravo. “Really, honestly, I thought Trappe Shot beat us. I really did. At the wire he had the nose, but Sean knew he was there and stuck his head out and didn’t want to let him get by. He tries so hard.”


The Vanderbilt marked the first Grade 1 victory for trainer Allen Iwinski.


“The race itself was just so exciting,” said Iwinski, who conditions the 5-year-old gelding for Black Swan Stable. “Going right down to the wire. Head-and-head. ‘Are we going to get there? Are we beat?’ He just hung in. It was just an exciting race, besides the fact it was my first Grade 1 win.”


Sean Avery began his career in 2008 racing for Iwinski, finishing third in a Saratoga juvenile race captured by eventual graded stakes winner Munnings. The son of Grand Slam raced for Michael Hushion in 2009, making four starts and winning two races before he was injured.


When offered the chance to train Sean Avery following his rehabilitation, Iwinski leapt at the opportunity.  


“The owners called me up in Florida and asked if I wanted Sean back,” said Iwinski. “Do you have to ask that question? So they sent him to me, and he was training fabulous. He was rehabilitated with Lynn Boutee in Ocala, Fla. When she sent the horse to me, he quickly came to hand. We worked him maybe four times off a 15-month layoff, so she really did most of the work and the preparation for his comeback.”


Since making his return for Iwinski, Sean Avery has won allowance races at Gulfstream Park and Parx Racing, posted an 11 ¾-length romp in the Longfellow at Monmouth Park on June 5, and finished second in Monmouth’s Mr. Prospector on July 4.


Overall, Sean Avery is 6-1-2 from 10 starts, with the $150,000 winner’s share of the Vanderbilt purse pushing his earnings to $338,180. The son of Cherokee Run was bred in Kentucky by Darley.


The connections of 3-5 favorite Trappe Shot, who entered the Vanderbilt off an 8 ½-length victory in Grade 2 True North Handicap, expressed disappointment over the tough beat but credited the 4-year-old for his valiant effort.


“It’s disappointing to lose because this was a Grade 1 race and it means so much to a stallion’s potential,” said Trappe Shot’s trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin. “The post position, obviously, had us racing wide. The track was favoring speed. He [John Velazquez] said everything was against us; speed on the inside and he had to use him hard and ask him twice. A jump before and a jump after [the wire], we’re a winner. It was a tough loss. Still, he ran great for what he had to do.”


Calibrachoa was third, with Apriority, Noble’s Promise, Hamazing Destiny, Bank Merger, and Atta Boy Roy completing the order of finish.




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