02/02/2009 12:00AM

Albertus Maximus wins Donn

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Bob Coglianese
Albertus Maximus, a 5-year-old son of Albert the Great, ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.96 over a fast track and paid $8.20.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Albertus Maximus proved he is more than just a synthetic surface horse and at the same time punched his ticket to the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 28 with a hard-fought half-length victory over a game and determined Finallymadeit in Saturday's $500,000 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Albertus Maximus was making his first start since being purchased privately by Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Stable and turned over to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin shortly after his victory in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface on Oct. 25.

Finallymadeit, a 30-1 shot who was coming back on one week's rest after finishing fifth last Saturday in the Sunshine Millions Classic, set the pace in the Grade 1 Donn with Albertus Maximus and jockey Alan Garcia tracking him from the outset. Albertus Maximus joined the leader from the outside leaving the quarter pole and seemed to have the race in control, but Finallymadeit dug in along what appeared to be the better going on the rail, giving the ultimate winner all he could handle before succumbing grudgingly in the closing yards.

Einstein, forced to race wide after breaking from the extreme outside in a field of 10, remained in close contention into the stretch before gradually fading to finish third, three lengths behind Finallymadeit.

Arson Squad, the 2-1 favorite, rallied belatedly to be fourth while never a factor.

Albertus Maximus, a 5-year-old son of Albert the Great, ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.96 over a fast track and paid $8.20. The winner's share of $300,000 pushed his lifetime earnings over $1.2 million.

"Speed was so good today I told Alan not to let Finallymadeit get away," said McLaughlin. "I think Alan felt he had the leader measured coming into the stretch but that horse ran a very game race.

"I'm thankful Sheikh Hamdan elected to buy this horse and put him in our hands. He's very professional. He handled the dirt well, training at Palm Meadows, and he ran like he trained."

McLaughlin will attempt to duplicate the Donn-Dubai World Cup double he pulled off two years ago with Shadwell's Invasor. McLaughlin said Albertus Maximus would remain at Palm Meadows until two weeks prior to the the World Cup before shipping to Dubai.