An Empire "Stake" of Mind
On a day honoring the sacrifices of so many Americans, the aptly named Empire Dreams, a four-year-old son of Patriot Act, swept by the front runners and won the $200,000 Commentator Stakes against a small but salty field of accomplished New York-breds Memorial Day at Belmont Park.
The gelding was making his second start of the year and stretching out to a mile in the Commentator after a displaying a strong stretch kick to finish second in his previous start at six furlongs in the Affirmed Success Stakes.
Trained by Tom Albertrani and owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, Empire Dreams bumped with a rival coming out of the gate and jockey Javier Castellano was content to sit well off the pace initially. He ranged up around the turn, went five wide heading into the stretch, and steadily advanced to prevail at the wire. The final margin of victory was three quarters of a length with a final time of 1:35.42 for the mile.
"I believe it was a good setup today," winning jockey Javier Castellano said. "There was a lot of speed in the race, and I think he had the perfect trip today. He's an off-the-pace horse and they went pretty quick with a decent pace, so I took advantage.”
“He came out of his last race really well," said Empire Dreams' trainer, Tom Albertrani. "I just tuned him up in his first race back and he was pretty sharp coming into this race. The plan was to get a good, strong pace and be closing, and I think Javier had them measured. Actually, I was expecting a little bit of a stronger pace, but he had plenty of horse to get by.”
Empire Dreams added $120,000 to his horse racing partnership's bankroll, bumping his lifetime earnings to over $450,000 with a record of 13-4-5-1.