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Alpha Definitely Travers Bound

Godolphin Racing’s Alpha emerged from his Grade 2 Jim Dandy victory in fine fettle and is definitely Travers-bound, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Sunday.

 

“He ate everything up and cooled out quickly,” McLaughlin noted. “I’ve already spoken to Simon [Crisford, Godolphin Racing Manager]; he called yesterday at 6:04 [p.m.], he was very happy, and we’re going to the Travers [Grade 1, $1 million, August 25]. Yesterday was a very important win, and we’re very happy, all of us.”

 

In Saturday’s Jim Dandy, Alpha went to the lead out of the gate under Ramon Dominguez and maintained his advantage to the wire, covering a half-mile in 49.30 seconds and three-quarters in 1:14.03. He completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.47.

 

“It was a great run, everything went as planned,” McLaughlin said. “We weren’t sure – Plan A, from the one hole, was to break, be forwardly placed, and if nobody’s going too fast, [I told Dominguez], ‘I’d love to see you on the lead. If they go fast, then maybe we’ll sit in behind them.’ He broke great, that was a big plus. When I looked at the tote board to see the half in :49, I was liking that, and I liked three-quarters in 1:14.”

 

While Alpha employed front-running tactics over yesterday’s sloppy, sealed racetrack, McLaughlin said the Bernardini colt is certainly not guaranteed to set the pace in the 1 ¼-mile Travers.

 

“You have to take each race as a different race,” the trainer said. “Everybody says, ‘What about the Travers? You going to go to the lead?’ We don’t know. We don’t know what post we draw, if Hansen shows up, Paynter shows up, we’re probably not on the lead. But, we’ll deal with that when we get there. It was a nice situation yesterday. Sometimes a clean face helps. We liked our horse [first-time starter] North Slope yesterday, and he didn’t have a clean face when he came back [after finishing seventh]. He was very dirty, and Ramon said he was not liking the kickback. So, to be able to have a clean face on that racetrack was nice.”

 

McLaughlin said Alpha likely would work twice prior to the August 25 Travers.

 

“He’s not a big, heavy horse, we were trying to put on weight, so we didn’t have to train so hard [prior to the Jim Dandy],” McLaughlin said. “The :58 and change was an interesting work [five-furlong bullet work in 58.88 on July 14], but it was a great work. We won’t do so much [before the Travers]. The most we would work is twice. It’s four weeks, so we’d probably work on August 11th and the 18th, most likely. People thought about needing the race [in the Jim Dandy], with the time [not running since 12th in the May 5 Kentucky Derby], but he’s fit, and never really missed any time except the few days he had a temperature [before the June 9 Belmont Stakes]. He’s put on weight and he’s doing very well, that’s the main thing.”

 

McLaughlin added that multiple Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky came out of her half-mile breeze yesterday at Greentree Training Center in good shape as she eyes one of two Saratoga Grade 1s – the seven-furlong Ballerina on August 24, or the 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign on August 26.

 

“She’s great,” McLaughlin said. “She liked working on the synthetic.”

 

 

 

 

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