Named for a species of Atlantic fish, the 3-year-old son of Indygo Shiner skipped away in the slop at Finger Lakes July 20 to take home the second leg of the Big Apple Triple for John Fort's Peachtree Stable and trainer Mike Hushion.
Having won the June 1 Mike Lee Stakes sprinting seven furlongs at Belmont Park and successfully lengthening out to 1 1/16 miles in the New York Derby, the colt need only capture the Aug. 21 Albany Stakes going 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga Race Course to sweep the series for New York-bred sophomores—plus a $250,000 bonus offered by the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
Only one horse, Tin Cup Chalice in 2008, has won all three races in the Big Apple Triple since it began in 1999.
The New York Derby was a third straight win for Amberjack, who took the Mike Lee by 1 3/4 lengths off a half-length victory in a May 11 $62,000 optional claimer going a mile at Belmont.
Well-handled by jockey Jose Espinoza, Amberjack broke alertly to contest the early lead, but settled well into a stalking spot third on the rail as Smooth Bert and Street Lord went up to contend for pacesetting honors. Smooth Bert kept the advantage by a head for a legitimate quarter in :23.59 and a half in :47.36, but Amberjack was preparing to shift out with plenty of run as three-quarters went in 1:12.40.
The winner split rivals and swept by strongly with a three-wide move while inhaling Smooth Bert, drawing away through a 1:37.89 mile to post a 6 1/2-length victory. Final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:44.42.
Favored at odds of 6-5, Amberjack returned $4.50, $2.80, and $2.20 while Smooth Bert paid $4.20 and $2.20 with West Hills Giant bringing $2.70. Go Get the Basil, Tequila Hero, and Street Lord completed the order of finish.
Bred in New York by Dixie Farm out of the Crafty Friend mare Free as Tristan, Amberjack was a $185,000 purchase from the 2011 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. His record now stands at four wins and a third from six starts, with earnings of $255,355.