Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
in the Greentree office beneath a giant photo of Bernardini's victory
in the 2006 Travers, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin pulled out his smart
phone and showed around a photo of himself posing with a white-bearded
gentleman that was taken a few moments before Alpha upset Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward.
The Twitter caption for the photo appropriately read: "Christmas in August at Saratoga."
was fun," said McLaughlin of Alpha's victory, which marked the first in
a graded stakes for the trainer this year. "Everything went right for
us. It was a big win for the horse, and a big win for everybody. It's
been a long time between Grade 1s; it just shows you how hard they are,
how hard any graded stakes are, to win."
who was one of four Grade 1 winners last year at Saratoga Race Course
for McLaughlin, had not won since dead-heating with Golden Ticket in the
2012 Travers. The Bernardini colt closed out his 3-year-old campaign
finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby and 12th in the Grade 1
Breeders' Cup Classic. He finished off the board in two starts during
the winter in Dubai and came off a four-month layoff to run fourth in
the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap in July at Belmont Park. Immediately prior
to the Woodward, he was sixth in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational
was a great win for him because he kind of went off the track a little
bit going to Parx and Santa Anita and then Dubai," said McLaughlin "But,
I blame myself a little for taking the blinkers off, and maybe he
wasn't quite as fit as I thought he was in his last two races. But, he
loves it here. The wet track is obviously a plus, and Johnny [Velazquez]
did a great job.
gate crew did a great job with him, too," added McLaughlin. "Alpha has
always had his issues at the gate. We've schooled him and worked with
him, and the gate crew knows him and they've learned him. Hats off to
the gate crew."
said Alpha emerged from his victory in good order and said the Grade 1,
$1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 28 at Belmont Park
appeared to be the next logical spot.
Belmont Park and 1 ¼ miles, which he likes," said McLaughlin. "But,
we'll speak with [Godolphin racing manager] Simon Crisford, who in turn
will speak with Sheikh Mohammed."