Tracy Farmer's Albert the Great won the $500,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. II) in wire-to-wire style on Sunday at Belmont Park, defeating Lido Palace by 2 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/4-mile race. On a fast track, Albert the Great completed the distance in 2:00.39.
"He's had a couple of tough beats," said trainer Nick Zito. "He had his way today and it was really nice to see him makes amends carrying top weight. He showed he's one of the best horses in America."
Two of those tough beats came at the hands of Suburban rivals Unshaded and Include, who gained narrow decisions over Albert the Great in the Travers Stakes (gr. I) and Pimlico Special (gr. I), respectively.
After showers added moisture to the track, Albert the Great broke alertly and was sent to the lead by jockey Jorge Chavez. Under slight pressure from Traditionally, Albert the Great set fractions of :23.91 and :46.73 while well off the rail. Lido Palace tracked the pacesetters from third and moved up to second on the turn as Albert the Great raced six furlongs in 1:10.56. Albert the Great surged clear and increased his advantage to the wire as Lido Palace held off Include for second place.
"Nick (Zito) told me to break well and stay to the outside. That's what we did," said Chavez. "Everything worked out great. He has a lot of class and knows what he has to do. He was galloping pretty easily down the backstretch. I know Lido Palace and Include took good runs at me, but I saved enough horse for the end. I kept him going."
Perfect Cat finished in fourth place, seven lengths behind Include. Unshaded and Traditionally completed the order of finish.
The win marks Albert the Great's eighth in 18 career starts and the $300,000 winner's share of the purse pushes his career earnings past the $2-million mark. Albert the Great has now won three of five starts as a 4-year-old and finished second – to Captain Steve in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) and Include in the Pimlico Special – in his two defeats this year. Albert the Great (Go for Gin--Bright Feather, by Fappiano) was bred in Kentucky by Albert Clay.
"It is so special for this horse to be by Go for Gin," said Zito, who trained the Kentucky Derby winner that sired Albert the Great. "It's very unusual to see a trainer win a Kentucky Derby and have a horse, one of his sons, be one of the best horses in America. Do you know how lucky I am?"
The even-money favorite, Albert the Great returned $4, $2.50, and $2.10. Lido Palace paid $3.60 and $2.20. Include was worth $2.10 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $17.40.
The trainers of the winner, Include, and Unshaded each indicated Saratoga's Whitney Handicap (gr. I, July 28) as the next likely race for their horses.
Earlier on the card, Chavez rode Touch Love to an upset in the co-featured $108,600 Astoria Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
Smoke'n Frolic, the odds-on favorite, was fractious at the gate delaying the start, then ran creditably to be runner-up, three-quarters of a length behind the winner and 6 1/4 lengths ahead of V V S Flawless.
Touch Love carried 116 pounds and covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:05.65 to remain undefeated in two career starts and earn $65,100 for Skeedattle Stable.
Touch Love returned $18.20 to win.