The Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) is up next for Albertus Maximus after the 5-year-old wore down a stubborn Finallymadeit in the final stages to win the $489,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 31.
It was the first graded stakes win for the Shadwell Stable-owned son of Albert the Great, who was coming off a victory in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Oct. 25 over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride racing surface. Shortly after that win, Albertus Maximus was purchased privately by Shadwell and transferred to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin from Vladimir Cerin.
McLaughlin confirmed that Albertus Maximus, who defeated the pacesetting Finallymadeit by a half-length, would be pointed to the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I).
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.
"We're happy to win the Donn and go to World Cup with the same success we had last time," McLaughlin hopefully told HRTV.
With the victory, Albertus Maximus went over the $1-million mark in career earnings, almost all of it coming in his last two starts.
Einstein, stuck extremely wide on the first turn, tired to finish third, followed by favored Arson Squad, who never threatened as the 2-1 choice in the field of 10. The winning time was 1:50.96 for the Donn.
Ridden by Alan Garcia, Albertus Maximus paid $8.20, $4.80, and $3.20. Finallymadeit returned $26.20 and $11. The $2 exacta was $179.40. Einstein, a three-time grade I winner on grass, was $3.60 to show.
Breaking from the rail under Eduardo Nunez, 30-1 shot Finallymadeit shot to the lead and gained control on the inside in the first quarter-mile as Einstein and Albertus Maximus pressed from the outside. The fractions were comfortable -- :23.48, :47.00, and 1:11.75 -- before Albertus Maximus challenged rounding the far turn. Finallymadeit engaged Albertus Maxiumus after the latter gained a head's advantage at the eighth pole and the rivals continued their long stretch duel to the wire.
"There was no question he liked the track today," Garcia said. "He was happy and comfortable the whole time and really enjoyed himself out there. He gave me everything he had and when I turned him loose, he went on and won the race. The horse inside me kept fighting. I thought he would be dead by the quarter pole but he just kept coming and coming and never gave up.”
“I’m so happy right now I could cry," said Javier Negrete, trainer of Finallymadeit. "You’ve heard the story before, but how can you not pull for him. We were given up for dead (long odds), even before he left the barn."
Einstein, in position on the turn, paid for the wide trip under Julien Leparoux and could not keep pace with the first two in the lane, winding up two lengths behind the winner.
“Our post position (on the far outside) certainly didn’t help us out, but he was closing very well at the end," Leparoux said.
It was 3 1/4 lengths back to Arson Squad, who rallied along the inside to reach contention on the final turn but could not go on with it. Arson Squad defeated Sir Whimsey by a head for fourth. They were followed by Great Hunter and Anak Nakal. A.P. Arrow, Bullsbay, and On Board Again, all done early, were eased in the homestretch.
Albertus Maximus earned $300,000 for his sixth lifetime win in 16 starts to boost his bankroll to $1,208,230. Marianne and Brandon Chase bred Albertus Maximus in Kentucky. The bay horse is out of the Forty Niner mare Chasethewildwind.
“He’s trained great on the dirt and obviously handled it well today," McLaughlin said. "He’s a very professional racehorse. We’re just grateful Sheikh Hamdan (al Maktoum) bought him after he won the Breeders’ Cup (Dirt Mile) at Santa Anita and sent him to us. It’s great for us have a horse like this in the barn. We can look forward to going to Dubai now with the same team that took Invasor two years ago. Hopefully, Alan (Garcia) gets to go, too, but that’s up to Sheikh Hamdan.”