By Hayley Morrison for woodbine.com
TORONTO, August 18 – The 127th edition of the Breeders’ Stakes, the third jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown is fast approaching and trainer Michael DePaulo has a strong contender in Seeking Albert, a newcomer to his outfit on Woodbine’s backstretch.
Aptly named, the process of seeking out the three-year-old colt for owner Robert Marzilli was by no means a straightforward task for DePaulo.
“Our immediate plan was to try to find a Queen’s Plate horse. So we located him in Texas and it’s a bit of an ordeal to get a horse from Texas to Toronto. There were certain applications that we had to get from the government and it took a little while. So we transported him from Texas to Kentucky. He stayed a few days in Kentucky and then he went to Presque Isle. Then we waited for this permit to allow him into the country. So we had a work at Presque Isle and then he showed up here.”
Seeking Albert began his racing career in November 2016 at Retama Park in Texas, but didn’t break his maiden until his fifth career start on February 21 at Sam Houston Race Park going 1-1/16 miles over the dirt.
In preparation for the Breeders’, the strapping dark bay colt has already made two starts at Woodbine. On June 11, he finished a disappointing seventh in an allowance race (1-1/16 miles) on the main track. Despite that initial lacklustre performance, the colt made his second appearance on July 14 and closed strongly to win on the turf going 1-1/2 miles.
The third jewel, the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes is the longest leg in the Canadian Triple Crown going 1-1/2 miles over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Seeking Albert will meet a field of nine other contenders including John Ross’ trainee Cool Catomine, who captured the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales last month.
Given the relatively new partnership between horse and trainer, DePaulo is very pleased with the colt’s progress over the last few months, specifically with his run on the turf. “I thought he ran a really good race – beat older horses and he’s already been a mile and a half so his strength is stamina.”
While his race record may not speak volumes, the colt’s pedigree certainly does. Bred by Adena Springs, Seeking Albert is a son of Einstein out of Purple Trillium.
“His mother (Purple Trillium) is by Seeking The Gold. The second dam (Perfect Sting) was pretty much a freak. She won the Breeders’ Cup Turf (2000) and she won three Grade 1s, so there is plenty of pedigree through the mother’s side and he’s already won going a mile and a half.”
Perfect Sting was also bred by Adena Springs and took home the Eclipse Award for Champion Grass Mare in the same year she captured the Breeders’ Cup Turf. A multiple graded stakes winner, Albert’s granddam banked over $2 million in career earnings.
The turf pedigree of his sire, the Brazilian-bred Einstein is also worth noting. He won several graded stakes races over the turf including back-to-back wins in the 2008 and 2009 Gr.1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic going 1-1/8 miles. Interestingly, despite victories at various distances and across several different surfaces, Einstein was unable to land a win going a 1-1/2 mile.
Yet, DePaulo’s trainee has proven he can indeed go the distance and the colt may have one other advantage over the rest of the field. “The furthest anybody else would have run is a 1-1/4 mile. So the other horses have to tackle the distance and the surface – we’ve already done it.”
Irish jockey David Moran will have the mount aboard Seeking Albert. A staple to Woodbine’s jockey colony over the last six years, Moran has won several graded stakes, but this jewel has so far eluded his grasp. This year he likes his chances.
“It’s always nice to win these big races. I think I’ve got the right type of horse this year. He’s a horse for sure that gets the distance. He’s a lovely big staying galloping kind of horse, so I think he’s got a great chance in there.”
Albert’s owner Marzilli is also looking for his first win in the Breeders’. Visiting the winner’s circle on numerous occasions with his formidable filly and stakes champ Caren, Marzilli is no stranger to that winning feeling.
Although Seeking Albert remains a bit of a dark horse in a deep field, Marzilli has no difficulty finding an answer on how it would feel to clinch top spot with the colt on race day.
Simply put, “A great feeling.”