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Alpha remains on course for Champagne

Alpha breaks maiden at Saratoga (9-3-11).
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
On October 8, Belmont Park will present a pair of one-mile, Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds, the Champagne and Frizette, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will have strong representation in both races.

In the Champagne, McLaughlin will run Alpha, while in the Frizette for fillies, the trainer will send out Miss Netta. Both juveniles have raced once, winning their debuts at Saratoga Race Course.

"Alpha is scheduled to work tomorrow, weather permitting, and he is doing very well and will run in the Champagne with [jockey] Alan Garcia," said McLaughlin. "Miss Netta is doing well and she'll work maybe Monday. She just broke her maiden. Both of them did. Stepping up to a Grade 1 is not easy, but we want to see where we stand. Alpha, we figure he belongs for sure, and we think she does, too."

Alpha, who will carry the Godolphin Stable colors in the Champagne, debuted in a seven-furlong race on September 3, settling 5 ½ lengths behind the pacesetter and swooping to the lead in the stretch to draw off to a six-length victory.

McLaughlin is eager to stretch out Alpha, who is by 2006 Champion 3-Year-Old Bernardini and hails from a family of European turf horses, to the Champagne distance.

"Going from seven-eighths to a mile, he wants the distance," the trainer said.

Miss Netta brings similar credentials into her race, having set the pace to break her maiden by 2 ¾ lengths under a hand ride. Her debut came on August 27, the same day as her owner, Cheyenne Stables, won the Grade 1 Foxwoods King's Bishop as part-owner of Caleb's Posse.

"She won going six [furlongs], but the way she did it was very impressive," said McLaughlin. "She broke, opened up four lengths, and then she sat, they came to her, and then she opened up again [2 ¾] lengths. She's by Street Sense, who should get further, and she did everything right that day. We'll see where we stand."

Notably, Alpha and Miss Netta are the only 2-year-olds McLaughlin has sent out to debut victories in 2011 from 13 starters. In the past seven calendar years, McLaughlin, who admits he doesn't push his horses to run big races first time out, has 34 victories from 215 juvenile first-time starters (15.8 percent).

"They take us there," said McLaughlin of his training philosophy. "That's what's nice, because we're not sellers. We're not trying to win impressively first-time out to sell them. We don't usually sell any, and we don't put them behind dirt and work them, work them, and work them. We would rather have them race and learn from the race and get experience in the race. Usually, they improve a lot second time, but neither [Alpha or Miss Netta] can probably improve a lot [in their next race]; they ran great and were more ready than we thought."


 

 

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