Amberjack steps up to win Mike Lee in stakes debut, heads to New York Derby

Saturday, June 1st, 2013
Adam Coglianese

Adam Coglianese

by Sarah Mace

Peachtree Stable’s Amberjack (Indygo Shiner), winner of a first-level allowance for state-breds in his most recent start on May 11, stepped up his game on Saturday at odds of 12-1 to win Belmont’s $125,000 Mike Lee. Having won the first leg of the Big Apple Triple for New York-bred 3-year-olds, the sophomore is headed next to the $150,000 New York Derby on July 20 at Finger Lakes.

Drawn in post two in the intriguing seven-horse field lined up for this year’s renewal of the Mike Lee, Amberjack got a ground-saving trip at the rail in fifth in the early stages, while cruising two lengths behind Hay Shares and Weekend Hideaway, who hooked up on the front end.

After testing fractions of 22.26 and 45.10, previously undefeated Hay Shares began to wilt, while Amberjack moved up in-between horses in the stretch to set his sights on new leader Weekend Hideaway. Drawing even with Weekend Hideaway around the sixteenth marker, Amberjack kicked away in the final strides to a 1 3/4-length victory in a final time of 1:21.64. Weekend Hideaway finished a length ahead of Smooth Bert in third. Completing the order of finish were: Soul House, West Hills Giant (who was taken out of his game by a bad stumble at the start), Hay Shares and Run Run Forrest. [VIDEO]

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

NYRA/Chelsea Durand

After the winning trip on Amberjack his first time aboard, jockey Junior Alvarado said, “I was really pleased with the position that I was in all the way. I was just hoping that by the time that I asked him he would give me a nice kick, and he did. At the five-sixteenths, I started to pick it up because he’s a big horse and you have to start to kind of early with him. I asked him, and he responded pretty well for me and kicked big there at the end.”

Winning trainer Mike Hushion said, “I didn’t give [Junior Alvarado] any orders. I just left him alone. I didn’t want him to have too much of a plan. I was comfortable [with the way the race set up]. I really couldn’t tell how well he was taking the dirt down there, but Junior said he handled it very well. He said he had horse the whole way.”

As to the future, Hushion said, “[The New York Derby] would be good. I’d say we’d be looking to go there.”

After a one-year hiatus, this year sees the return of a $250,000 bonus for to the connections of a horse who sweeps all three races of the Big Apple Triple. Tin Cup Chalice in 2008 was the first – and so far only – horse to sweep the series. The series concludes with the $150,000 Albany on August 21 at Saratoga.

Third in his November debut, Amberjack broke his maiden in the Aqueduct slop last December by seven-plus lengths. After being eased at Gulfstream Park on New Year’s Day. He returned a winner last out in a one-mile May 11 allowance after moving barns from Dale Romans to Mike Hushion .

Bred by Dixie Farm and foaled at Song Hill Thoroughbreds in Mechanicville, Amberjack was purchased by Peachtree’s John P. Fort at the 2011 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred sale for $185,000. He is one of two winners from two foals to start out of Free as Tristan, a winning daughter of Crafty Friend purchased by Oxbow Racing the 2007 Keeneland November sale for $13,000. Free as Tristan’s first foal, Associate, is a Grade 1-placed Kentucky-bred colt by Wando who has earned $246,974. The 10-year-old mare currently has a yearling colt by Yes It’s True and a weanling filly by Tizway.

Amberjack’s second dam, Argentinean-bred Miss Carlotita, is a Grade 1 winner in Argentina and has also produced two stakes winners


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