Jerome and John W. Amerman's Lido Palace reeled in Albert the Great in the stretch to win Saturday's $1,008,000 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga. Racing under nine less pounds than the 4-5 favorite, Lido Palace completed the 1 1/8 miles run on a fast track in 1:47.94 in defeating Albert the Great by two lengths.
Elite Mercedes sprinted to the early lead and was two lengths clear of Gander in short order. Albert the Great raced wide on the first turn outside of Pleasant Breeze and Lido Palace, who was just behind the favorite. As Elite Mercedes continued to carve out the fractions, Jorge Chavez moved Albert the Great up to challenge on the backstretch, with Lido Palace, under Jerry Bailey, still in good stalking position. Albert the Great led the field into the stretch in his attempt to earn his third consecutive graded stakes victory, but the Bobby Frankel-trained Lido Palace ran by him on the outside en route to the victory before behaving greenly once on the lead.
"I knew Albert the Great wouldn't be easy to get by, but he did have some early speed to contend with and was giving us nine pounds," said Bailey, who won his fourth Whitney Saturday. "That all helped. What I didn't plan on was my horse pulling himself up when he got to the front. I hit him on both sides to keep him going. Thankfully, the wire came when it did."
"Albert the Great was carrying a lot of weight and we were inside him, which was good for us," said Hall of Fame trainer Frankel. "Lido Palace was messing around a lot and blew the turn coming for home. When he made the lead, he lost his concentration. Jerry (Bailey) hit him left-handed, and I think that made it worse. He switched back to the right hand, and that straightened him out."
"'Albert' had to spot this horse nine pounds," trainer Nick Zito said. "He ran great. No excuses -- just the weight, I guess. I thought he would get by Elite Mercedes sooner, but he didn't. If he could have, maybe he would have been able to hold the winner off. They went :46 and change (:46 3/5). I thought Jorge (Chavez) did a good job going into the first turn. He beat this horse in the Suburban and he had to give him anther pound today. That's the way it goes."
Zito said Albert the Great would return to Belmont Park to run in that track's weight-for-age races.
"We'll get him in the Woodward and maybe it will be a different story," Zito said.
Gander put in a resurgent run to finish third, just ahead of Perfect Cat. Elite Mercedes, Unshaded, and Pleasant Breeze completed the order of finish.
The win marks the first stakes victory for Lido Palace since being switched to Frankel's barn following a half-length win in the Chilean St. Leger (Chi-I) while conditioned by Alfredo Bagu. The Chilean-bred 4-year-old son of Rich Man's Gold -- Sonada, by Quick Decision, won three consecutive group I stakes in his native country before finishing second in the GP El Ensayo -- Chilean Derby (Chi-I) in his lone start on turf. Lido Palace kicked off his current campaign with a third-place finish in the UAE Derby (UAE-III) before picking up place money in both the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) and Suburban Handicap (gr. II). Lido Palace earned $540,000 for the win, his seventh in 14 starts. The winners' share of the purse pushed Lido Palace's career earnings past the $1-million mark. He was bred by Haras Figuron.
The second wagering choice at just under 3-1, Lido Palace paid $7.90, $3, and $2.70. Albert the Great returned $2.50 and $2.30 and completed the $15.40 exacta. Gander paid $4.30 to show. (Chart, Equibase