Updated on 09/17/2011 10:35AM

Aldebaran best in Met Mile

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Aldebaran, who once finished second in five consecutive starts, wins for the third time in his last four races in Monday's Met Mile at Belmont.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Aldebaran shed his bridesmaid label in a major way Monday, splashing through Belmont Park's sloppy stretch and holding off Saarland by a neck to win the Grade 1, $750,000 before an announced crowd of 15,071.

Saarland closed from last to be second by three lengths over Peeping Tom. Completing the order of finish were Proud Citizen, Justification, the 4-5 favorite Congaree, Najran, and Wake at Noon.

Entering this year, Aldebaran had three wins and 11 seconds from 17 career starts. Monday's victory was his third from four starts this year, and second Grade 1, and it was by far his most prestigious victory.

"With his pedigree, this is a huge win," said trainer Bobby Frankel.

Aldebaran had won the Grade 1 San Carlos and Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap this year.

Aldebaran, owned by the Flaxman Stable, is a 5-year-old son of Mr. Prospector out of the Group 1-winning dam Chimes of Freedom. That makes him a half-brother to the Grade 1 winner Good Journey and graded stakes winner Sea of Showers. Aldebaran has now earned $1,413,517.

Aldebaran's late-running style didn't figure to be successful on a sloppy track that had been favoring speed the last few days. Jerry Bailey had Aldebaran in seventh position through the first five furlongs of the race while Najran, who equaled a North American record winning the Grade 3 Westchester, and Congaree dueled heads apart through a half-mile in 44.48 seconds.

Congaree made the lead turning for home, but seemed to be spinning his wheels as Aldebaran was flying while racing wide turning for home. Aldebaran made the lead approaching the three-sixteenths pole and held off Saarland in the stretch. Aldebaran covered the mile in 1:34.15 and returned $10.80 to win.

Aldebaran came out briefly in deep stretch, and appeared to brush with Saarland. But John Velazquez, the jockey of Saarland, said any contact was insignificant.

"I actually got to the leaders quicker than I thought I would," said Bailey, who won his fourth Met Mile. "I hit my horse left-handed and he ducked out. I had to straighten him up real fast and when I did, he gave me another surge."

Velazquez said that when Bailey threw his horse back to the inside, Saarland started to loaf, which probably cost him the race.

"When Jerry went back to the inside, my horse thought he was finished," Velazquez said. "I think he ran a huge race. If he would place himself a little better the first part he would have won today."

The biggest disappointment of the race was Congaree, who showed his good early foot under Gary Stevens but faded to finish sixth after making the lead at the quarter pole.

"He handled the track fine. I don't have an excuse for you," Stevens said.

Peeping Tom, who finished third, pushed his career earnings over the $1 million mark to $1,068,317.