Shared or not,
trainer Kiaran McLaughlin remained thrilled and delighted Sunday morning by Alpha’s Grade 1, $1 million Travers
victory. Godolphin Racing’s colt finished in a dead heat for the win with
Golden Ticket, trained by Ken McPeek for Magic City Thoroughbred Partners.
“A win’s a win,” McLaughlin said, echoing the
sentiments he had shared immediately after Saturday’s race.
“We’re happy, very happy. It’s a great win, and it’s a
win, that’s the most important thing. Someone texted me that it was a
‘K Mac’ day yesterday; K. McLaughlin and K. McPeek, both from Lexington.”
Making McLaughlin’s first Travers victory more meaningful was
Alpha’s bumpy road to his first Grade 1 triumph. Previous attempts had
not gone smoothly – the colt was second to eventual Belmont Stakes winner
Union Rags in last year’s Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont after gate trouble and also had major
gate issues when 11th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at
Alpha exited a neck loss to Gemologist in Aqueduct Racetrack’s
Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial in April with a
laceration on his left foreleg, which became infected and delayed his departure
for the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 12th after getting hot
in the paddock. Pointed for the Belmont Stakes, Alpha developed a temperature
10 days out and McLaughlin was forced to skip the race and change course
“He’s just done this in the last 90 days,” McLaughlin
said pointing upward. “It’s been amazing. It worked out perfectly
what we planned after [his] being sick. We shipped him up here on June 2, and
this is what we wanted to do. It doesn’t always work that way, so it was
great that it did. The plan came together. In the paddock yesterday, he never
turned a hair, and that’s what we were worried a little bit about. At the
gate he was great. So, he has matured and has done extremely well up here. He
just didn’t do well in Kentucky.
Getting sick before the Belmont
is a blessing, looking back.”
McLaughlin reported that Alpha came out of the Travers
“great” and that the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby on September 22 at
Parx Racing and the Grade 1, $1 million TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational
on September 29 at Belmont
Park are both
possibilities for the Bernardini colt’s next start.
“I spoke to Simon [Crisford, Godolphin Racing Manager] yesterday
evening,” McLaughlin said. “He asked me, ‘What would be the
most logical spot?’ And I said, ‘Well, the Pennsylvania Derby [at
Parx Racing] is in one month, and it’s straight 3-year-olds for $1 million,
the same day as Questing going there [for the Grade 1 Cotillion].’
It’s a likely choice. Then you have Jockey Club Gold Cup the next week.
It’s older [horses], but that’s the other spot to talk about, with
the Breeders’ Cup then the next stop.”
Since Alpha has thrived in Saratoga,
McLaughlin said he would like to keep the colt at Greentree Training
Center for the time
being. This afternoon, the trainer will send out Godolphin’s multiple
Grade 1 winning filly It’s Tricky in
the Grade 1 Personal Ensign Handicap, where she will face last year’s
Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Royal Delta and four others. How would he feel about
another dead heat?
“I’d take it,” McLaughlin said with a smile.
“It’s a Grade 1, and we don’t mind sharing in those