Updated on 09/15/2011 12:23PM

Albert the Great wins Brooklyn Handicap


ELMONT, N.Y. - It was not a totally lost weekend for trainer Nick Zito.

Less than 24 hours after finishing second in the Belmont Stakes for the fifth time in nine tries, Zito earned his first Brooklyn Handicap trophy Sunday as Albert the Great cruised to an easy-as-he-pleased 3 1/4-length victory before 10,376 at Belmont Park.

Perfect Cat, winner of the Schaefer Handicap on Preakness Day, got up for second, three lengths ahead of Top Official. Gander, Country Be Gold, Justification and State Shinto completed the order of finish.

On paper, the Grade 2 $250,000 Brooklyn looked like a mismatch and it played out that way when the gates opened. Breaking from the rail, Jorge Chavez sent Albert the Great, the 122-pound highweight, to the lead and opened up a one-length advantage after an easy opening quarter run in 23.65 seconds. Albert the Great, who raced well off the rail, ran the second quarter in 22.89 seconds, keeping a measured length ahead of Top Official.

Entering the far turn, Chavez opened up his advantage came off the turn in the middle of the track with Perfect Cat, under Edgar Prado, in futile pursuit. Under a vigorous hand ride from Chavez, Albert the Great cruised under the wire in 1:47.41 for nine furlongs. He returned $2.60 as the 1-5 favorite.

"I spoke to Nick and the plan was to break and just let him go and go to the outside because it looked like the rail was a little heavy," said Chavez, who won the Brooklyn in 1995 with You and I. "It was like a workout."

"Overall, it was a great performance," Zito said. "That's the way it was supposed to work out and it,"

Zito said the Brooklyn victory was a nice consolation after A P Valentine's second-place finish to Point Given in Saturday's Belmont.

"Absolutely," Zito said. "We know we got two wonderful horses and the goal is to get them ready for the Breeders' Cup."

The Breeders' Cup Classic will be run on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park. Albert the Great is 5 for 6 over this track.

Zito said "it's a good possibility" that Albert the Great will return in the Grade 2 $500,000 Suburban Handicap on July 1. If not, he could wait for the Grade 1 $750,000 Whitney Handicap on July 28 at Saratoga.

"We're not leaving the state," Zito said.