08/02/2012 1:15PM

Saratoga: Emma's Encore won't be 39-1 again in Prioress

Barbara D. Livingston
Emma's Encore will make her Grade 1 debut in the Prioress.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.– At odds of 39-1, Emma’s Encore obviously fooled a lot of people, perhaps even trainer Allen Jerkens himself, when she rallied to a 2 3/4-length victory over a field that included the previously undefeated Agave Kiss last month in Belmont Park’s Grade 3 Victory Ride.

Emma’s Encore does not figure to sneak up on anyone quite like that again on Saturday afternoon at Saratoga when she returns against virtually the same group of 3-year-old fillies in the $300,000 Prioress, although even Jerkens is uncertain whether she will be able to duplicate that performance when she makes her Grade 1 debut.

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Emma’s Encore benefitted from a very fast pace and a racetrack that perhaps favored her late-running style to rally from 10 lengths off the lead to win the six-furlong Victory Ride. The win was the third in the last five starts for the former claimer, whose only poor effort during that time came when she attempted to go 1 1/8 miles in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks.

“You don’t know if the track is going to play the same way here as it did the last time,” said Jerkens. “She’ll probably have to run a little better and keep on coming like she did, but she seems to be doing as well as before her last start and the jockey is riding good, that’s one thing.”

Junior Alvarado, who was aboard Emma’s Encore for the first time in the Victory Ride, will have the mount again on Saturday.

Pace could be the key to Emma’s Encore’s chance of repeating and there is plenty of speed signed on again for the Prioress. Agave Kiss, Jamaican Smoke, and Tu Endie Wei all return from the Victory Ride, with Judy the Beauty also expected to have a say in the early running.

“She ran so fast the last part the last time,” said Jerkens. “I remember years ago Eddie Neloy was always worried about the pace with Buckpasser. I told him Braulio [Baeza] doesn’t have to be 20 lengths off the lead. If there’s no pace why can’t he be five lengths off the lead? So if they go slower Saturday than the last time, maybe she’ll be a little closer too.”

Agave Kiss will try to rebound from her shocking fifth-place finish in the Victory Ride, the first loss for the speedy filly in seven career starts. Agave Kiss was pressed for the early lead by Jamaican Smoke while pinned down on the rail after breaking from post 1 in the Victory Ride. She will break from the outside, from post 6, in the seven-horse Prioress lineup.

“I’m still trying to figure out what happened last time,” said trainer Rudy Rodriguez. “She got pressed on the lead and it’s always harder when they’re down on the fence like that.”

Jamaican Smoke turned in a game effort to finish second after contesting the 21 and change and 44-second pace in the Victory Ride. The outing was just her fourth and first against stakes company for the improving Jamaican Smoke.

Completing the field are Tu Endie Wei, who finished third after racing forwardly in the Victory Ride, the Grade 2 stakes-placed Livi Makenzie, and the multiple stakes winner Jazzy Idea.