04/28/2012 3:43PM

2012 Kentucky Derby: Alpha gets green light after sharp drill at Belmont

NYRA Photo
Alpha works five furlongs Saturday under Rajiv Maragh, who is likely to ride him in the Kentucky Derby.

Alpha, the Wood Memorial runner-up, passed a significant hurdle Saturday in his bid to make the Kentucky Derby by working a sharp five furlongs at Belmont Park and, more importantly, coming out of it in good shape.

In his first work since the April 7 Wood – a race from which he emerged with an infection from a wound to his left shin – Alpha breezed five furlongs in 59.54 seconds over the Belmont training track. He worked in company with the 3-year-old maiden Steele Road, starting about a length behind. The work started at the half-mile pole, and while Steele Road shut it down at the wire, Alpha went on through a final eighth of a mile of 12.39 seconds to the seven-eighths pole.

With jockey Rajiv Maragh up, Alpha went in fractions of 11.69 seconds, 23.22, and 47.15.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said that he was extremely pleased with the work and that he plans to ship Alpha to Kentucky on Monday.

“We’re where we want to be, I wouldn’t change anything where we’re at today,” McLaughlin said. “To me, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look better. He’s put on weight since the Wood; he’s bright, he’s happy, all systems are go.”

The infection kept Alpha off the track about two or three more days than normal after the Wood. Alpha had been on antibiotics until last Tuesday but since coming off them has had no inflammation to the aggravated area, McLaughlin said.

Alpha has trained in polo wraps and breezed wearing front bandages Saturday as a precaution.

McLaughlin said Maragh will “most likely” ride Alpha barring the availability of another rider due to a defection of one of the top Derby contenders. Last year, John Velazquez won the Derby aboard Animal Kingdom, a mount he picked up the day before the race. Maragh, third in last year’s Derby on Mucho Macho Man, will be at Churchill on Derby Day to ride Groupie Doll in the Humana Distaff.

Dipak Roy More than 1 year ago
whatever Alpha might be, he can not beat Bodemiester, period!
don More than 1 year ago
No but Ill want another can
Feanor Matheis More than 1 year ago
A few weeks ago I looked over the possibles for the Derby, and this one stuck out like a sore thumb, because without Nafzger, Shug, or Zito, this was the one trainer I truly respected for bringing a runner along with improvement. But this infection deal is the sort of thing I don't like to see. Any little tiny problem becomes a complete stopper in the 1 1/4 over Churchill's rock hard surface. I just hope Kiaren is still the old fashioned complete trainer I think he is, and won't take even a fraction of a percent of a chance. No owner would risk it. So, figuring Kiaren is still class, I figure he won't run unless Alpha is 100%.
Feanor Matheis More than 1 year ago
and when I say "no owner would risk it" I know where of I speak. I was once an owner. Owners don't take risks like that. But figure Kiaren to know if there's any problem, and to do the correct thing. If he runs, he'll be the one to beat. Kiaren won't put him in unless he is.
Willian J. Brune More than 1 year ago
Toying with Alpha?? Gemologist was all out for the win. If Alpha didn't have an excuse, Gem may have beat him anyway, but say Gemologist was out for a Sunday walk is quite a stretch. Stick to writine parade music
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
this is just an opinion but gemologist was toying with alpha in their last race,they could have gone around again and the result would stay the same,i dont care what the trainer says this horse was not good enough to win the derby before the infections etc,and is still not good enough after,unless every one decides to give sheikh mo a present for spending over a billion dolars on us racing and single handedly keeping the kentucky breeding solvent (by purchasing some of the breeding farms gainsburogh etc) and purchasing multi milion dolar yearlings ,and stallions hard spun,street sense,any given saturday,jazil,bernadini and many more,no doubt sheikh mo deserves to win a derby and he will one day but not with this horse.
JAHMAN More than 1 year ago
Just like Empire Maker toyed with Funny Code in the Wood......But please by all means do not play him next week he has no shot
Ray More than 1 year ago
I can't believe that anyone who saw the Wood can think anything other than Alpha was much the best that day the Check on the first turn almost took him to the ground! he still gets up goes 4 wide and comes flying against a fresh horse who had the race all his way If there is a horse Peaking at the right time Alpha is it not to mention the man that is handling this monster has been known to win some awfully BIG races this horse could not be in better hands GO ALPHA
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
wow these trainers are something else,he really shows confidence in his jockey,rajiv maragh will probably ride unlesss a another rider becomes available,i think he meand r domingues on hansen,even with a healing colar bone.
Bernardino Lumayag More than 1 year ago
been waiting for this workout. i'm picking him to be the tripple crown winner. must go to TJ sportsbook,been holding for he might not start because of the injury,but it looks OK now
Mike Lee More than 1 year ago
I didn't like Alpha at first,but do now...don't have to listen to much hype about this colt like you hear everyday from the Union Rags bandwagon...think Alpha could finish as far back as tenth in the derby,pass on the Preakness,then come back and win my favorite race(the Belmont stakes) at a nice price! ...good luck Alpha! ML
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guy's ! Not finding a jock for this super horse is the beginning for a script in Hollywood. It's another film similar to Seabiscuit or Luck that will be made after the Belmont. That's all folks.
John Burton More than 1 year ago
I think ALPHA will surprise many on Derby Day by finishing ITM!
soto More than 1 year ago
6 days to go......and they don't have a jock???? this must be a real serious contender!