05/31/2012 7:34AM

2012 Belmont Stakes: Alpha out, one fewer opponent for I'll Have Another

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Tom Keyser
Alpha hasn't been to the track since Sunday.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Alpha, one of just four graded stakes winners among the dozen 3-year-olds being pointed to the June 9 Belmont Stakes, will miss the race after developing a temperature earlier in the week, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Thursday morning.

Alpha, who won the Grade 3 Withers and listed Count Fleet earlier in the year, had a temperature of 103 degrees Tuesday night, McLaughlin said. Although the temperature returned to a normal level - 100.40 - after Alpha received antibiotics, McLaughlin said the horse missed training Wednesday and Thursday. In fact, Alpha hasn’t been to the track since he breezed Sunday morning.

[BELMONT STAKES: Video updates, expected field, early odds]

“It’s just not the thing to do,” said McLaughlin, who discussed the situation with Godolphin Racing manager Simon Crisford. “It’s a demanding race, the mile and a half. We need to be 110 percent and we’re not.”

McLaughlin said future plans for Alpha were not yet determined.

In addition to winning the Withers and Count Fleet, Alpha finished second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, beaten a neck by Gemologist, and as a 2-year-old was second to Union Rags in the Grade 1 Champagne.

Alpha’s defection leaves two-time Eclipse Award winner Ramon Dominguez without a mount for the Belmont and reduces the number of likely starters to 11.

The three Belmont Stakes candidates that have won a graded stakes races are I’ll Have Another, Dullahan and Union Rags.
The remainder of the field comprises Atigun, Five Sixteen, Guyana Star Dweej, Optimizer, Paynter, Street Life, Unstoppable U and Ravelo’s Boy.