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Alpha Even Money in Withers

avorite Alpha with Ramon Dominguez wins the 37th running of the $150,000 Count Fleet, for 3-year olds, going 1 mile and 70 yards, at Aqueduct. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Owner Godolphin Racing LLC.
On the first Saturday in May, only 20 hopefuls will get to line up in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. On Saturday afternoon at Aqueduct Racetrack, seven 3-year-olds will try to take a big step on the road to the Derby in the 132nd running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Withers.


“The Withers is an important race because it’s graded and you don’t get to run in the Derby unless you have those graded stakes earnings,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who will saddle Alpha, the even-money favorite on the morning line, in the 1 1/16-mile Withers. “When you look at the schedule, you start with the first Saturday in May, and work back from there. We are taking the Withers as an important step, and maybe, maybe, afterward we’ll talk about what we’re going to do.”


Alpha, a Bernardini colt who carries the colors of Godolphin Stable, started his 2012 campaign with a 2 ½-length victory in January’s Count Fleet, which preceded the Withers as the first of four open stakes for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct. Next up is the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham on March 3 and then New York’s final major prep for Triple Crown aspirants, the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial, on April 7.


     {Check out the top Kentucky Derby 2012 contenders} 


“We’re excited to be running him, to be in this position,” said McLaughlin of Alpha, who drew post position 7 with Ramon Dominguez aboard. “Our stomachs were upset last weekend when Consortium didn’t run well in the slop at Gulfstream [sixth in the Holy Bull to Algorithms] so we’re thankful for Alpha. But we have to do it day by day, race by race.”


While Alpha has already competed in Grade 1 company, finishing second to Union Rags in the Champagne and 11th behind Hansen in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, many of his rivals will be testing the waters in Saturday’s race.


Harry and Tom Meyerhoff’s Hakama, who will be making his stakes debut, is 2-1-1 from four starts, including a maiden win at a mile, 70 yards at Aqueduct on December 10 and an optional claiming win at the Withers distance at Laurel Park on January 4.


“He’s graduated himself into this position,” said trainer Michael Trombetta of the chestnut son of First Samurai. “He looks like he’s a good fit – he ran well in two sprints and two routes – and we’re seeing if he’s ready to take the next step.”


Julian Pimentel is aboard Hakama, who drew the rail at 5-1 on the morning line.


Trainer Dale Romans, who saddled Shackleford to victory in the 2011 Preakness, will be represented by the lightly raced King Kid, who was most recently third in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day.


“He’s a horse we’ve always thought a lot of, and we’d like him to run big Saturday and see if he belongs,” said Romans of King Kid, who broke his maiden at Churchill Downs on November 26. “It would be nice to get $120,000 of graded stakes earnings and then be selective about where he’d go next.”


Mike Luzzi has the mount on King Kid, 4-1 on the morning line, from post position 4.


Repole Stable’s How Do I Win closed out his 2-year-old campaign with a pair of victories and then finished fourth, beaten more than six lengths, behind Alpha in the Count Fleet.


“He’s a horse, who, frankly, has been a bit of a disappointment,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of the gray son of Corinthian. “He’s one of those horses that, when things go right, is capable of running a big race. Cornelio [Velasquez] told me he thought he took too much of a hold in the Count Fleet, so without seeing all the form, the likely strategy will be to put him on the lead and hope he gets loose.”


Velasquez returns aboard How Do I Win, who leaves from post position 5 and is 10-1 on the morning line.


Tiger Walk, who will be making his sophomore and stakes debut in the Withers, enters off a pair of wins at Laurel Park, having finished fourth and 10th in two maiden outings at Saratoga Race Course. The Tale of the Cat colt, 6-1 on the morning line, drew post position 6 and will be ridden by Horacio Karamanos.


Rounding out the field are Speightscity, fifth in the Count Fleet, and Swag Daddy, who closed out his 2-year-old campaign with victories in the Damon Runyon and Restrainor at the Big A.


The field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Withers:








Hakama (KY)

J Pimentel


M J Trombetta



Speightscity (KY)

D Cohen


G C Contessa



Swag Daddy (NY)

J Alvarado


R E Dutrow, Jr.



King Kid (KY)

M J Luzzi


D L Romans



How Do I Win (KY)

C H Velasquez


T A Pletcher



Tiger Walk (KY)

H Karamanos


I Correas, IV



Alpha (KY)

R A Dominguez


K P McLaughlin




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Older Comments about Alpha Even Money in Withers...

I played 7,6,1 straight tri- I didn't want to throw you off but outside of Alpha the others were very hard to separate on paper except I really did like the #6 for 2nd. have a nice day
lol, I forgot I had Alpha to place. I did give the fav respect.
Just the show out of my picks, icy. Good job by Alpha.
icy, p.s., good luck. I gave you a like on your hilarious Native Dancer vs. Tom Fool comment.
icy, I don't think Alpha is all that fast, so for that reason and his gate antics which may or may not be over, I picked Hakama, who has had two good wins in races over a mile, one over the inner track at Aqueduct. Hakama trains at Fair Hill, which I have found to be a positive. Then the fav, Alpha next, and finally, Tiger Walk--seems to like the switch to dirt. Your #3 was scratched, but I left him out due to his last race with the second and third fractions belonging to him as he was on the lead.
Mary, I don't feel Alpha is beatable especially with the nice job Domingues does calming him down in the gate. I like the #1,#3,#6 next. If I can get any two of these in order be nice to hit the tri 100 times and take a shot at the super 30/50 times.I would appreciate your input but after watching these horses race he (Alpha) really lays over this field.I tossed the #2, #4, #5 from the exotics.I'll look for your response.
Hakama and How Do I Win look good in this race.
Hey icy, I think the favorite is beatable: 1,7,6.

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