08/04/2012 5:30PM

Saratoga: Emma's Encore nails Judy the Beauty on the wire in Prioress

Barbara D. Livingston
Junior Alvarado eases up on Emma's Encore after just getting up for a nose victory in the Prioress.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The scene was emotional in the winner’s circle Saturday at Saratoga when Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens Jr. greeted his 3-year-old filly Emma’s Encore following her last to first nose decision over Judy the Beauty in the Grade 1 Prioress.

The legendary Jerkens was cheered loudly by a legion of adoring fans after registering his first Grade 1 win since Miss Shop won the Personal Engisn five years earlier. The victory was also the second in succession for Emma’s Encore, a daughter of Congrats, who captured the Grade 3 Victory Ride at odds of 39-1 at Belmont Park on July 7.

As was the case in the Victory Ride, Emma’s Encore trailed the field under her red hot jockey Junior Alvarado as the 4-5 Agave Kiss cut out 22.15 and 44.64-second splits on the lead. Alvarado, who won both stakes here Friday, including the Grade 2 Honorable Miss aboard C C’s Pal, swung Emma’s Encore four wide to commence her bid entering the turn after which the pair wore down the hard-luck Judy the Beauty in the final stride.

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Judy the Beauty prompted the early pace, overtook the tiring Agave Kiss about 40 yards from the wire and just failed to last. Agave Kiss finished a tiring third, her second consecutive defeat following six straight victories to open her career.

Emma’s Encore paid $12.40 after completing six furlongs in 1:09.35. As is tradition at Saratoga, Emma's Encore's owners Brenda Mercer and Peter Berglar will be honored for their Grade 1 win by having their silks painted on a jockey statue by the entrance to the track following the conclusion of the season.

"Just like the old days," said Jerkens, who is 83. "We’re going to get a jockey in front of the clubhouse again. I always like to get a jockey in front of the clubhouse with our colors on it. I think she improved a little, she had to run her very best today, he rode her very good, strong. Nothing was in her favor today looking at the late scratch and it seemed speed was holding on pretty good. Everything has to go well.” 

Jerkens admitted to getting a little emotional after the race.

"The support of the fans, that’s nice. That’s what breaks me up," said Jerkens. "It goes back to the days of Onion, Beau Purple, Admiral Vee.”

Jerkens said he’s doubtful Emma’s Encore would return for the Grade 1 Test on Aug. 25.