08/21/2013 5:25PM

Saratoga: Escapefromreality beats Amberjack in Albany stakes, denies bonus

Barbara D. Livingston
Escapefromreality, a 3-year-old son of Read the Footnotes, paid $8.50.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - All the prerace hype surrounding Wednesday’s $150,000 Albany Stakes focused on Amberjack and his bid to sweep the Big Apple Triple and earn his connections a $250,000 bonus. But in the end, Escapefromreality played the spoiler, leading throughout to register a two-length victory over Amberjack under a heady ride by the meet’s leading jockey, Javier Castellano.

Amberjack had already won the first two legs of the Big Apple Triple, the Mike Lee and New York Derby, for trainer Mike Hushion and the Peachtree Stable. Escapefromreality, who was beaten just a neck by Revolutionary in the Grade 3 Withers earlier in the year, had skipped those races.

Castellano seized control of the race right from the gate, putting Escapefromreality on the lead and slowing the pace down to a reasonable 24.56 and 49.30 seconds for the opening quarter- and half-mile. Amberjack raced in close attendance to the leader from the outside, joined for command on the final bend, but never could get his head in front, ultimately giving ground to the winner through the final furlong. Smooth Bert, who steadied along and raced rankly behind the leaders for six furlongs, finished another 2 1/4 lengths further back in third.

Escapefromreality, a 3-year-old son of Read the Footnotes, is trained by Dominick Schettino for the partnership of MeB Racing and the Brooklyn Boyz Stable. He paid $8.50 after completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.16.

“Our plan was from July 4 to run him in this race,” said Schettino. “He’s been training up to this race in excellent shape. I left the race up to Javier. This horse, he’s competitive once he gets in front. It was a great race.”

Schettino said he has no immediate plans for Escapefromreality’s next start.

Hushion was gracious in defeat, congratulating the connections of Escapefromreality in the winner’s circle immediately after the race.

“We were in the right place, laying second to him,” said Hushion. “It was our horse’s race to take if he was good enough at the top of the stretch. We were just second-best, tip our hat to the winner, and try to figure out how to beat him the next time.”

Sayaad cruises in Dance of Life Stakes

Sayaad sprinted clear at the start and never looked back, cruising to an easy 4 1/2-length decision over Miceli in the $100,000 Dance of Life Stakes. Winning Cause finished third as the even-money favorite.

Sayaad, a son of Street Sense owned by Shadwell Stable and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, paid $6.80 after travelling a mile in 1:33.77 over a firm course, his final time just .35 of a second off the track record of L’Oiseau d’Argent that has stood for nine years.