On Whitney Day in 2012, Jerkens added to his legacy by sending out Emma’s Encore to a nose victory in the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress, a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies.
After leaving from post position 1, Emma’s Encore trailed the field by 7 ½ lengths at the first call as favored Agave Kiss ran the opening quarter mile in 22.15 seconds while racing clear on the lead. Emma’s Encore began to unwind a furious rally under jockey Junior Alvarado midway on the far turn, hooking to the far outside in upper stretch and nipping Judy the Beauty, who had claimed the lead only a few strides before the wire.
It was the second straight graded stakes score for Emma’s Encore, who upset the Grade 3 Victory Ride at 39-1 on July 7 at Belmont Park.
“After she won the Victory Ride, I was really confident in her,” said Alvarado. “She broke really good again. I got her to settle and feel comfortable in the race. We tried to save ground because I knew we were going to be running late. Turning for home, she was moving, but we were wider than I wanted to be. She gave me a really nice kick at the end. She ran really hard to win that race. Approaching the wire, I knew we had it. These last two races have really worked out well for us.”
Emma’s Encore, who paid $12.40 as the 5-1 co-third choice in the Victory Ride, completed six furlongs in 1:09.35. She races for owners Brenda Mercer and Peter A. Berglar.
“I think she improved a little [from the Grade 3 Victory Ride],” said Jerkens. “She had to run her very best. [Junior Alvarado] has been good. It all counts. Everything has to go well. The horse has to run good, the horse has to be good, has to be fit enough. She really had to run today. Nothing was in her favor today, looking at the late scratch. It looked like speed was holding on pretty good.”
After going winless in three 2011 starts, Emma’s Encore arrived in Jerkens’ barn, and since the switch she has posted a record of 4-1-1 in seven starts. The Prioress win, worth $180,000, pushed her career earnings to $342,958.
Purse money, however, wasn’t what was on Jerkens’ mind in the moments following the Prioress.
“We get to have a [painted] jockey [statue] in front of the clubhouse,” said Jerkens. “I always liked to get a jockey in front of the clubhouse.”
Emma’s Encore, who sold for $2,000 as a yearling, is a daughter of Congrats and was bred in Florida by Equest Thoroughbreds.
The Prioress marked the second straight defeat for third-place finisher Agave Kiss, who was fifth in the Victory Ride after opening her career with six straight wins, including the Grade 3 Cicada at Aqueduct Racetrack in March.
“I think she ran the way she wanted to run,” said Agave Kiss’s trainer, Rudy Rodriguez. “Maybe the other horse [winner Emma’s Encore] is a little bit better than her right now. Maybe the heat took something out of her. We scoped her [after the Victory Ride] and she came back nice and clean. You always want to win, but she ran the way we wanted her to run and came back OK.”
Jazzy Idea, Livi Makenzie, and Tu Endie Wei completed the order of finish.