Sent off at odds of 1-20, Nick Zito trainee Albert the Great drew off in the final furlong to win Saturday's $200,000 Widener Handicap (gr. III) by 5 3/4 lengths at Hialeah Park, breaking the track record for 1 1/8 miles in the process. Albert the Great took over on the second turn and kicked clear in the stretch, running the final furlong in a quick :11.51. He completed the distance in 1:45.52 on a fast track. Earlier on the card, Zito-trained A P Valentine set a course record for 1 1/16 miles.
Ol Memorial Stable and Michael Tabor's A P Valentine closed from eight lengths back after a half-mile run in :45.79 to earn a 3 3/4-length win in an optional claiming race for 3-year-olds and upwards Saturday at Hialeah Park. Ridden by Eibar Coa, the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) winner completed the 1 1/16 miles in track-record time of 1:40.39.
Monarchos, Cee Dee, Dream Run, City Zip, and Talk Is Money were sent out for works Sunday morning in South Florida in preparation for Saturday's Florida Derby (gr. I).
- By Scott Davis
A settlement has been reached between Hialeah Park and the Florida Horsemen Benevolent and Protective Association in the dispute regarding underpayment of purses. The FHBPA had filed suit against Hialeah, claiming that the track shortchanged horsemen by about $500,000 in 2000 purses. Hialeah management asserted that, if anything, purses were overpaid from the agreement reached in March 2000 with the horsemen.
Hialeah Park Chairman John J. Brunetti had some harsh words for rival tracks Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park in discussing recent filings with the State of Florida for operating dates in 2002. "The actions taken by the other tracks are contrary to their public façade of cooperation," Brunetti said, upset that both Calder and Gulfstream have filed for expanded live racing dates that infringe on Hialeah's customary operating period of March 17-May 22.
Hialeah Park announced that it will run its 2001 meet – scheduled for March 17 through May 22 – at its home track. Hialeah ran its 2000 meet as a lessee at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, and reported gains in attendance and handle as compared to its 1999 meet, run at Hialeah.
The Florida Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association filed a lawsuit against Hialeah alleging the track breached purse agreements with the horsemen's group for the 2000 and 2001 race meets. The suit seeks money damages under the revenue sharing provision of the purse agreement for the 2000 meeting.
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