In 2006, trainer Tom Albertrani entered a Triple Crown race with a fresh, talented horse and came away with an upset victory.
Seven years after Bernardini’s triumph in the Preakness, Albertrani is taking aim at the Belmont Stakes with Freedom Child, who has been gaining plenty of attention leading up to the race.
“Everyone’s been talking about this horse quite a bit all week,” Albertrani told NYRA Press on Thursday, after Freedom Child galloped 1 ¼ miles on the main track. “Hopefully, it gives you a little more confidence. I like what I’m seeing. I’m getting all the good signs. He couldn’t be doing any better.”
Albertrani had similar feelings going into the Preakness with Bernardini, whose victory was overshadowed by the breakdown of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. Bernardini would go on to prove himself with wins in the Grade 1 Travers and Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and be named Champion Three-Year-Old Male.
“I just felt with the way Bernardini was training going into the Preakness, I had about the same level of confidence as I do going into this race with this horse,” Albertrani said. “Not knowing what the outcome’s going to be, I’m just saying my level of confidence in both cases would be about the same. As it turned out, Bernardini did win, but when you know your horse is training well and they’re doing good, you’ve got that confidence that they should perform well.”
Terry Finley, the founder and president of Freedom Child’s co-owner West Point Thoroughbreds, is also feeling good about the colt’s chances.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had a buzz horse like this in a real big race,” Finley said. “I’m very confident. I’ve kind of learned over the years, why not be confident, even if you’re 15 or 20-1? People get to fretting, but it’s just great what’s happening. What if we’re not disappointed? It’d be a pretty cool day.”