Under highweight of 122 pounds, Tracy Farmer's Albert the Great broke well and continued on to win Sunday's $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) by 3 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park. The 4-year-old son of Go for Gin completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.41 on a fast track.
Guided by Jorge Chavez, Albert the Great raced a bit off the rail as Top Official provided slight pressure to his outside. After a :23.65 opening quarter-mile, the Nick Zito-trained winner raced the next quarter in a fast :22.89, with Top Official a half-length back. Albert the Great led by a half-length over Perfect Cat after six furlongs in 1:10 and kicked clear from there en route to the victory.
"He was much the best today and was the class of the race," Chavez said. "No one else could keep up with him. Down the backstretch, he was just galloping. Nick and I decided the rail was a little heavier today. I never hit him once. It was like a workout."
Perfect Cat came home second, three lengths ahead of Top Official. Gander finished fourth, followed by Country Be Gold, Justification, and State Shinto.
The win marks the seventh in 17 career starts for Albert the Great and his fourth in a graded stakes. Previously as a 4-year-old, Albert the Great has finished second in two grade I races – the Pimlico Special and Donn Handicaps – and won the Widener Handicap (gr. II) in course-record time at Hialeah Park. During his sophomore campaign, he won the Dwyer Handicap (gr. II) and defeated older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), both of those wins coming at Belmont Park.
"This is a tremendous horse and he gave a great effort, carrying 122 pounds," Zito said after the Brooklyn. "He loves Belmont Park."
The Brooklyn win improves his career record at the track to five wins from six starts.
The 3-10 favorite, Albert the Great returned $2.60, $2.20, and $2.10. Perfect Cat paid $3.30 and $2.10. Top Official was worth $2.10 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $9.
Zito said Albert the Great would return to run in Belmont's Suburban Handicap (gr. II, July 1) and then return to grade I company in the $750,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga.
Albert the Great was bred in Kentucky by Albert G. Clay. (Chart, Equibase