Making his 41st career start off only nine days rest, Royal Albert Hall earned his first stakes victory capturing the inaugural running of the $100,000 Bernardini on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Breaking from post 6 with Junior Alvarado aboard, Royal Albert Hall tracked comfortably from sixth-position as 24-1 longshot Hit It Once More led the field of seven through a half-mile in 49.49 seconds and a mile and three-eighths in 1:43.40 on a the fast main-track.
Alvarado began his winning move at the three-eighths pole, guiding Royal Albert Hall in prime position at the top of the stretch. Full of run, Royal Albert Hall overtook a valiant Hit It Once More in the final furlong and extended away to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
The 7-year-old gelding completed 1 5/16 miles in a final time of 2:18.99.
“It's such a long race. I didn't want to go wide the whole way around,” said Alvarado who earned his third victory of the day with the win. I wanted to give my horse a chance. By the three-eighths pole, I had to wade my way through it. He was there for me. I had to make him work for it, but he was there for me. After that, he carried me all the way to the wire.”
Returning $8.80 for a $2 win wager, the English-bred son of Royal Applause boosted his career earnings to $353,198 for owners Drawing Away Stable.
The victory provided trainer Rob Atras his first stakes win on the NYRA circuit.
“It's a great feeling,” said Atras. I thought the horse could do it. I thought he could get the distance but coming back in nine days he overcame a lot. I left it up to Junior, but everything has been closing today. He left a little bit sharp, a little keen out the gate, but Junior put him on the rail and got him to relax. He sifted through horses and picked up the pieces late. It was just a perfect trip.”
Following Hit It Once More in second was Shalako, Forewarned, Holiday Bonus, Leitone and Weather Wiz.
Live racing returns Sunday at the Big A with an eight-race card. First post time is 12:50 p.m. A single-day Pick 6 carryover of $29,905.02 will start with Race 3 with a post time of approximately 1:55 p.m.
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