03/01/2015 9:29AM

Albano dominates Maxxam Gold Cup

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Albano, ridden by Kerwin Clark, is a candidate for the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap after romping in the Maxxam Gold Cup.

Albano set the pace and then pulled away for a 6 1/2-length win over Endurance in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup on Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park. It was a powerful performance for Albano, who is a candidate for the Grade 2, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap.

The Gold Cup was one of three stakes on Sam Houston’s card Saturday. A Day in Paradise, like Albano trained by Larry Jones, won the $50,000 Texas Heritage for 3-year-olds, while Kitten’s Queen gave trainer Mike Maker his fourth stakes win of the meet in the $50,000 Jersey Lilly.

Albano ($2.80) assumed command of the Gold Cup soon after the start, and dictated fractions of 24.61 seconds for the opening quarter, 50.41 for a half-mile, and 1:15.61 for six furlongs. He opened up on his rivals in the stretch, going on to cover 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:52.24.

“I knew they were in trouble after the first quarter of a mile,” said winning rider Kerwin Clark.

Jones said Albano is a candidate for the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 28.

Albano, who races for his breeder, Brereton Jones, has now won 4 of 11 starts and $608,600. The Gold Cup was the horse’s third career stakes victory. Albano is a son of Istan, and was bred in Kentucky.

A Day in Paradise ($3.20), also ridden by Clark, battled down the backside, around the final turn and into the stretch before pulling clear for a 3 1/4-length win in the Texas Heritage. He covered the mile in 1:40.38.

A Day in Paradise had run second to War Story in a Fair Grounds allowance in his start leading up to the Texas Heritage, and since the allowance War Story has run second in both the Lecomte and the Risen Star at Fair Grounds.

A Day in Paradise is a New York-bred who races for Tommy Ligon.

Kitten’s Queen ($5) was always prominent for a two-length win over Satin Gold in the Jersey Lilly for fillies and mares. The winner covered 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:42.71.  David Cabrera rode the winner for Ken and Sarah Ramsey.