Empire Dreams closed out 2015 with a bang, defeating hard-knocking veteran Saratoga Snacks by just a head following a ding-dong battle in the stretch in the $100,000 Alex M. Robb Stakes (NYB) on New Year’s Eve at Aqueduct. After the race NYRA on air personality Jason Blewitt calls Empire Dreams and Saratoga Snacks the “Affirmed and Alydar of New York racing”.
The Equibase chart provides a great summary of his trip:
Empire Dreams made light contact with its next door neighbor at the start, took up position in midpack placed in the two path, was patiently handled making his way down the backstretch, gradually moved into the four path from the top of the second bend to the three-eighths pole, continued to remain on hold the rest of the way to the top of the lane, got called upon leaving the far turn, arrived at the three-eighths pole as the primary danger to the runner up, got engaged in a belated duel with that foe, displayed no signs of being intimidated eve as that opponent came out a few paths twice in the final sixteenth and got the job done.
“My horse likes to run on the outside,” said winning jockey Manny Franco. “He’s more comfortable like that. At the half-mile pole, I tried to make a move on the outside. Saratoga Snacks is a tough customer.”
This is the fifth stakes win for Empire Dreams who won the NYSS Great White Way Division Stakes at two, the New York Derby at three, and the Commentator Stakes and Empire Classic at four. Trained by Tom Albertrani, he has a record of 6-6-3 from 19 career starts and earnings of $746,501.
“We rode him home with Manny down the lane,” said West Point Chief Operating Officer Tom Bellhouse. “This horse has given us a lot of thrills and won all the big races for New York-breds. We were going to put him away for the winter after his win in the Empire Classic, but Tom felt he was doing so well that we decided to take one more shot. It turned out to be a brilliant move. We’ll give him a well-deserved freshening and then try to make him a millionaire in 2016.”