08/09/2009 11:00PM

Cool Coal Man romps in Albert the Great


Though his Cool Coal Man won Monday's $71,750 Albert the Great Stakes at Saratoga by 12 3/4 lengths, trainer Nick Zito could not totally celebrate because his other horse in the race, 2008 Belmont Stakes winner Da' Tara, was eased.

Cool Coal Man, under John Velazquez, shot through a narrow opening along the rail turning for home and exploded for the easy victory, his eighth from 20 career starts. But Da' Tara was out of the race almost from the start. After Da' Tara broke slowly, jockey Alan Garcia took him to the outside, and he basically went into a gallop for the remainder of the race before being eased in the stretch.

A quick post-race examination by Dr. Anthony Verderosa didn't reveal any problems, according to Zito.

"Dr. V checked him out, he's perfect, there's nothing wrong with this horse," Zito said. "I'll have to go back to the drawing board, I don't understand that at all. I'll have to put blinkers on him, he's way better than that. I was very disappointed because I thought he was the horse to beat, to be honest with you."

Even with his best, Da' Tara would have had trouble beating Cool Coal Man ($3.80), who sat third along the rail before charging to the front. He ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.64 and will likely be pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward on Sept. 5.

In the $73,500 Signature Stallion Stakes, Queen of Hearts, under Jose Espinoza, won a stirring-stretch duel with a hard-luck Zaskar to win by a nose. It was three-quarters of a length back to Borrowing Base.

Zaskar led for 11 furlongs of the 12-furlong race, battled back when Queen of Hearts came to her at the eighth pole, but dropped a head bob at the wire. Queen of Hearts, a daughter of Thunder Gulch owned by Susan Moore and M&M Thoroughbred Partners and trained by Jimmy Jerkens, covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:27.85 and returned $17.60.

"I thought she got beat," Jerkens said. "We were unbelievably lucky. She was beat one jump past the wire and one jump before the wire, but we'll take it."