Three-time grade I winner Einstein drew the outside post for his 2009 debut in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I), when he attempts to add a grade I victory on dirt to his impressive record Jan. 31 at Gulfstream Park.
A finalist in Eclipse balloting in the older male and turf male divisions last year, the Brazilian-bred 7-year-old is coming off a victory in the Clark Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs Nov. 28.
Owned by Midnight Cry Stable and trained by Helen Pitts, Einstein will break from post 10 as the 122-pound high weight with Julien Leparoux aboard.
Einstein’s imposing resume includes winning the Gulfstream Turf (gr. IT) twice, in 2006 & 2008, and the Turf Classic (gr. IT) last May at Churchill, but his connections hope that a grade I victory on the main track in the nine-furlong Donn will enhance his potential value at stud. Einstein has nine wins in 22 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,634,020. The son of Spend a Buck faded to sixth in last year's Donn.
He faces a formidable field that includes recent Breeders' Cup Dirt hero Albertus Maximus and graded stakes winners Arson Squad, A.P. Arrow, Sir Whimsey, Anak Nakal, Finallymadeit and Great Hunter.
Jockey Alan Garcia gets the call on the 5-year-old Albertus Maximus, making his first start for Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum’s Shadwell Stable and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin after being purchased privately following his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Oct. 25.
McLaughlin is hopeful the son of Albert the Great will show enough in the Donn to go on to the $6 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in late March. McLaughlin sent out Shadwell’s 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor to capture the 2007 renewal of the Donn en route to a World Cup victory.
Albertus Maximus is yet to win a graded stakes race.
That is not the case with Arson Squad, a multiple grade II winner for Jay Em Ess Stable who notched a 2 1/2-length triumph in the Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. II) in October, soon after being transferred to the East Coast barn of Rick Dutrow Jr. The 6-year-old son of Brahms came from far back to narrowly miss by a length in Aqueduct's Cigar Mile (gr. IT) Nov. 29, finishing fourth.
Sir Whimsey, trained by 2008 Eclipse Award winner Steve Asmussen for Turtle Bird Stable, has dropped four in a row since capturing last spring's Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II). The Virginia-bred 5-year-old son of Jump Start has won both of his starts at Gulfstream.
Four Roses Thoroughbreds' Anak Nakal salvaged a tough 3-year-old campaign against the finest in the country when he won the rich Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) for trainer Nick Zito. The Victory Gallop colt returned to run second to Arson Squad in New Jersey.
J. Paul Reddam’s 5-year-old Great Hunter ships in from California for the Donn with jockey Javier Castellano picking up the mount for trainer Doug O’Neill. Reddam and WinStar Farm’s Spring At Last won the Donn last year for O’Neill.
A Pennsylvania-bred son of Aptitude, Great Hunter was on the Triple Crown trail in 2007, winning the Robert Lewis Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita before finishing 13th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) behind Street Sense. Great Hunter finished third last out in a Hollywood Park allowance on Dec. 22. That was his first start since finishing fifth behind Curlin in the Dubai World Cup in March.
Following his win in the 2007 Clark, A.P. Arrow went without a victory in six tries last year, his best effort a second to Spring At Last in the Donn. Kent Desormeaux rides the 7-year-old A.P. Indy horse for A.E. Paulson Living Trust. This is A.P. Arrow's first try with new trainer Ken McPeek.
Completing the field for the Donn are Rolbea Thoroughbreds’ Finallymadeit, Eduardo Nunez; Mitchell Ranch’s Bullsbay , John R. Velazquez; and Stronach Stable’s On Board Again, Eibar Coa.
$500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I, Race 9, 5:14 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Finallymadeit (FL), 117, Eduardo O. Nunez
2. Albertus Maximus (KY), 120, Alan Garcia
3. Anak Nakal (KY), 117, Joe Bravo
4. Bullsbay (KY), 114, John R. Velazquez
5. A. P. Arrow (KY), 115, Kent J. Desormeaux
6. On Board Again (FL), 112, Eibar Coa
7. Arson Squad (PA), 119, Edgar S. Prado
8. Sir Whimsey (VA), 116, Robby Albarado
9. Great Hunter (PA), 116, Javier Castellano
10. Einstein (BRZ), 122, Julien R. Leparoux