Barry Schwartz' homebred Traffic Chief took Wednesday's feature at Saratoga, the $150,000 Albany Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds. Traffic Chief and jockey Jose Santos went to the front immediately after the break and never relinquished the lead through the running of the 1 1/8-mile race.
Jerry Bailey and Acceptable Venture followed Traffic Chief through most of the race, and looked to be making a move coming off the turn into the stretch, but Traffic Chief persevered and rebuked those attempts. As he neared the finish line he had opened up two lengths between himself and Acceptable Venture, who was chased by third-place finisher Spite the Devil. The winner paid $4.70, $2.80, and $2.20. The 6-5 exacta returned $9.50.
"It wasn't hard getting the lead, even from the outside post," Santos said. "The first quarter was easy for him. Bailey put some pressure on us in the backside, but my horse was going nice and easy. This horse has a lot of stamina. I was glad to win it; he's named after Mike Scagnelli, who is a police chief in New York."
In his last start Traffic Chief defeated Spite the Devil by three lengths to win the New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 26. In June he finished second in the Hill Prince Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Park. He has now won five of his six lifetime starts and has earnings over $275,000.
Michael Hushion trains Traffic Chief and for a time, trained his dam, Ms. Forte (by Sewickley) for Schwartz. Schwartz bred Traffic Chief in New York in the name of his Stonewall Farm. The colt is a son of Colonial Affair.
Traffic Chief acted up in the post parade, but was all business once the gate opened.
The splits fell in :47 3/5; 1:11 3/5 and 1:36 2/5 with no change, and finally Traffic Chief rolled to the win in 1:49 3/5.
"We've seen a little bit of that (acting up in the post parade) in morning, but in the afternoon, he's been good," Hushion said. "I was concerned about what kind of energy he was burning up. It didn't look like anyone was closing to me; although, I was holding my breath for a long time."