05/10/2013 4:24PM

Belmont Park: Fast Falcon seeks elusive stakes win in Albert the Great

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Barbara D. Livingston
Fast Falcon has only one win from 12 starts but has placed in a pair of graded stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. – If you are judged by the company you keep, then Fast Falcon, despite having just one career victory, will be deemed as having a big chance in Sunday’s $90,000 Albert the Great Stakes at Belmont Park.

Since winning a maiden race at Pimlico a year ago, Fast Falcon has competed in six graded stakes, including a neck loss in the Grade 1 Travers to dead-heat winners Alpha and Golden Ticket. He also was beaten a neck by Teeth of the Dog in the Grade 2 Dwyer.

Even when Nick Zito, the trainer of Fast Falcon, tried to find his colt a confidence builder in the allowance ranks, he ran into the likes of Cigar Street and Cross Traffic, finishing second to both.

“He’s the most charismatic ‘a-other-than’ horse in America,” said Zito, who trains Fast Falcon for owner Richard Pell. “He’s had the privilege of hanging out with some of the best horses in training.”

Fast Falcon was off the work tab for a month but did breeze a solid half-mile in 48.20 seconds May 4 over the Oklahoma training track.

“Mr. Pell and I want to see his normal trying race, then put him in a spot like the Brooklyn or Suburban,” Zito said.

Jose Lezcano rides Fast Falcon from the rail.

Zito has his prints all over this race. He trained Albert the Great, for whom this race is named, and Birdstone, the sire of Birdrun, who returns from an 11-month layoff in this spot for trainer Bill Mott.

Birdrun won the 2011 Brooklyn but is 0 for 6 since. He has not run since finishing ninth in the 2012 Brooklyn after stumbling at the start.

Birdrun worked three times at Saratoga following the Brooklyn, “but wasn’t quite right,” Mott said, “so we gave him time.”

Birdrun shows 13 works since January, including a half-mile in 47.91 seconds here May 4.

“He’s been training well,” Mott said. “You never know; he’s been off a long time. We’d love to have him ready for the Brooklyn.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher sends out the uncoupled entry of Heart Butte and Percussion. Heart Butte, winless since the 2011 Auld Lang Syne Stakes at Parx, finished second to Easter Gift in a stakes-caliber allowance at Parx on April 16, a race that included 2011 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, who finished fifth.

“Usually, when you go to Parx, you don’t figure you’re gonna beat a Belmont winner and not win,” Pletcher said. “He ran well. It was an improved effort. The blinkers off settled him a little bit.”

Percussion, who won his first two starts for Pletcher, set the pace before fading to fourth in the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic on April 20.

Kings Village, a horse mired in bottom-level claimers, fills the five-horse field.