Lunar Victory outgamed Saratoga Snacks to take Saturday’s $250,000 Empire Classic, the centerpiece of New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park. The 5-year-old son of Speightstown drew alongside his foe on the turn and and after a prolonged stretch duel, Lunar Victory prevailed by 1 1/4-lengths.
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Lunar Victory, who has hit the board in 13 of his 16 lifetime starts, is one of 19 stakes winners this year by his sire. Speightstown ranks second nationally on the General Sire List in both the stakes winners and progeny earnings, with more than $8.5 million, categories.
Fifth through the first five furlongs of the 1 1/8-miles, Lunar Victory moved into second, just three lengths off the lead after six panels. He engaged Saratoga Snacks soonafter, and those two put separated themselves from the field in the stretch, with Lunar Victory getting the best of the duel to stop the timer in 1:49.70 on the “good” main track.
“(He) broke really good and then I just tried to settle him down and relax because I knew there would be a little speed in the race,” said winning jockey Junior Alvarado. “He has so much class, though, turning for home I just tried to stay away from (Saratoga Snacks) and he gave me a nice kick at the end.”
Lunar Victory is owned by Juddmonte Farms, who paid $350,000 for the New York bred at the 2008 Keeneland September yearling sale. With the Empire Classic victory, Lunar Victory's career earnings stand at $425,039.