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Aqueduct: Alpha on course for Withers

Alpha wins 2012 Count Fleet Stakes.
Godolphin Racing’s promising sophomore Alpha will likely turn in a work for next Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Withers Stakes Sunday or Monday at Belmont Park. A comfortable winner of the Count Fleet at the Big A on January 7 despite some gate trouble, Alpha has been schooling in the gate regularly since the race and will continue that work this week in preparation for 1 1/16-mile Withers, said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.


“We’re not going to breeze from the gate, but maybe we’ll stand in there [Saturday], breeze Sunday or Monday and then one more time probably in the gate before the race,” Magnuson said. “He was great the other day, but you’ve got to keep doing it. You can’t just go once.”


     {Check out the top Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders}

Keeping Alpha in New York after the Count Fleet was an attractive option given the revamped 3-year-old stakes program, with the Withers moving up on the calendar to serve as a steppingstone to the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham on March 3 and the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World New York City Casino Wood Memorial on April 7.


“It’s fantastic this year what they’ve done with the Count Fleet, Withers, Gotham, and Wood,” Magnuson said. “It’s a great progam, best in the country, seriously. It’s a steady march, great purses, and there’s grading in there. It’s ideal.”


Alpha, a son of Bernardini, debuted a six-length winner on closing weekend at Saratoga Race Course and then finished second in the Grade 1 Champagne behind Union Rags. Never a factor in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on November 5, Alpha was sent to Florida after the race and returned to the worktab at Palm Meadows in December. After shipping to New York the week before the Count Fleet, he breezed a bullet half-mile in 47.88.


According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, Alpha is likely to face Hakama, King Kid, Phil Dancer, Speightscity, Swag Daddy and Tiger Walk in the Withers, with How Do I Win and Longview Drive also under consideration for the race.




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Older Comments about Aqueduct: Alpha on course for Withers...

At the moment, it looks like Alpha's race to lose. Speightscity looks like he is improving, though.

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