Albert the Great was in front with an eighth of a mile remaining and he was still there with a 16th left before a Travers-record crowd of 54,116 on a sunny Saturday at Saratoga.
"Between the eighth pole and the sixteenth pole, I thought he wasn't going to get there," Nafzger said. "At the 16th pole I thought he had plenty of time, but you never know."
Unshaded had enough time and distance to nail Albert the Great in the final strides for a head victory in the $1 million Grade I stakes for 3-year-olds.
"He was the class horse today," winning jockey Shane Sellers said. "I was confident and coming into the stretch I just hoped I had enough horse to finish."
He also said the colt has been difficult in the past.
Unshaded was fifth on the rail going down the backstretch. Sellers moved him outside entering the final turn and he moved to join the leaders turning for home.
It became a virtual two-horse race in the stretch.
"I'm real disappointed that we didn't get there, but I can't thank Albert enough for trying as hard as he did," said Nick Zito, trainer of Albert the Great, ridden by Jorge Chavez.
Belmont Stakes winner Commendable finished third, another 6 1/2 lengths back, and 2 3/4 lengths ahead favored Dixie Union, winner of the Haskell Invitational in his previous start.
Unshaded, owned by Jim Tafel, paid $8.90, $5.30 and $3.60 in snapping a three-race losing streak that included a second-place finish in the Peter Pan and thirds in the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy. The winner's share of $600,000 from the $1 million purse boosted his career earnings to $1,058,648.
Albert the Great paid $8.90 and $5.60, and Commendable returned $5.30.
Unshaded raced the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02 2-5 under scale weight of 126 pounds.
Nafzger thought Unshaded got a lot out of the 1 1-8-mile Jim Dandy in which he finished third Aug. 5 at Saratoga.
"The horse wasn't focused after seven weeks off, but that race did him a lot of good," Nafzger said. "He got focused from that race."
Nafzger praised Zito for the job he did with Dwyer winner Albert the Great after he finished seventh in the Jim Dandy. He got the front-runner to run off the pace for the first three-quarters of a mile and removed the blinkers the colt had been running with.
Completing the order of finish in the Grade I stakes were Impeachment, Postponed, Milwaukee Brew, Country Coast and Curule.
In another Grade I stakes, favored More Than Ready, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, snapped a five-race losing streak with a 1 1/2-length victory over long shot Valiant Hallory, who finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Millencolin.
More Than Ready, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Pat Day, was last entering the turn, then chrged down the middle of the stretch and took the lead just inside the eighth pole.
The winner, owned by James T. Scatuorchio, carried high weight of 124 pounds over the seven furlongs in 1:22 2-5 and paid $4.60, $3.20 and $2.60. He earned $120,000 from a purse of $200,000 for his second win in seven starts this year and his seventh victory in 14 career races.
His previous win was in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park. His races during the losing streak were from 1 1-16 miles to 1 1/4 miles.
Valiant Hallory, 114, returned $11 and $4.30. Millencolin, 121, paid $4.80.
Completing the order of finish were More Than Ready's stablemate Left Bank, Bevo and Wake At Noon.
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