07/07/2012 6:58PM

Belmont: Emma's Encore pulls $80 Victory Ride upset for Jerkens

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Barbara D. Livingston
With odds-on favorite Agave Kiss off the board in a six-horse field, the Allen Jerkens-trained Emma's Encore pays $80 to win and $60 to show in the Victory Ride.

 ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Allen Jerkens told Junior Alvarado just two things before the jockey took a seat aboard Emma’s Encore prior to Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park

“Just give her a chance and don’t be fooled by the price,” said Jerkens, whose filly was dismissed as the 39-1 rank outsider in the six-horse field.

Long-time followers of New York racing learned that lesson long ago when it comes to the Hall of Famer Jerkens in a stakes race.

Taking advantage of a hot early pace which helped fry the 1-5 favorite Agave Kiss, Emma’s Encore, under Junior Alvarado, rallied from far back to win the Grade 3 Victory Ride by 2 3/4 lengths over Jamaican Smoke, who was part of the early torrid pace. It was a neck back to Tu Endie Wei in third and Sea Island in fourth.

Agave Kiss, previously undefeated in six starts, faded to fifth, beaten 12 1/2 lengths. Gypsy Robin was last.

Emma’s Encore returned $80 to win. But she also returned $60 to show as there was $330,239 wagered to show on Agave Kiss out of the $373,378 in the pool.

The victory was the first in a graded stakes for the 83-year-old Jerkens since he won the 2010 Grade3 Westchester here with Le Grand Cru.

“It’s nice to get back and win one,” Jerkens said in the winner’s circle.

Jerkens is down to about 18 horses in his stable and only picked up Emma’s Encore this past winter from owner Brenda Mercer. Jerkens ran her four times at Gulfstream with two wins, a third, and an eighth in the Gulfstream Park Oaks, the latter run at 1 1/8 miles.

After Emma’s Encore finished a decent second in an allowance race here earlier in the meet, Jerkens opted to take a shot in the Victory Ride and it paid off.

 “It’s amazing. I didn’t have anything else and the lady sent me this filly and she turns out to be good and the ones we thought would be good they turn out to be no good,” Jerkens said.

A second partner, Peter Berglar bought half-interest in Emma’s Encore and she won a maiden race at Gulfstream on Feb. 24.

“I guess he’s pretty happy now too,” Jerkens said. “I guess everybody’s pretty happy. I know I am.”

The connections of Agave Kiss were obviously not too happy. She broke alertly from the rail but was hard-pressed hard through a quarter in 21.46 seconds and a half-mile in 44.00. Jockey Ramon Dominguez said he knew he was in trouble at the three-eighths pole.

 “I knew were going pretty fast but even if I got pressed too hard I was envisioning to always be in hand and whoever was pressing me was doing the hard work,” Dominguez said. “It was kind of reverse. [Jamaican Smoke] was a lot handier than I was at that point so I knew it didn’t look pretty from there.”