Updated on 02/08/2012 2:46PM

Aqueduct: Gotham or Wood likely next for Alpha

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is unsure whether he wants Alpha to run in the Gotham Stakes on March 3 or wait for the Wood Memorial on April 7.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – With $180,000 of graded stakes earnings in the bank, Alpha has given his connections the luxury of planning the 3-year-old’s path to the May 5 Kentucky Derby how they see fit.

While Alpha will likely remain on the New York road to the Triple Crown, it remains to be seen whether he will make his next start in the Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham Stakes on March 3 or take a detour and await the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 7.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he would consult with the decision-makers from Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum’s Godolphin Racing – which includes racing manager Simon Crisford – this week to determine Alpha’s next move. If the decision is made to skip the Gotham to await the Wood, is very likely Alpha will ship to south Florida to train at the Palm Meadows training center for the near two months leading up to the Wood.

“We’ll look at the Gotham for now, but I’ll talk to Simon and see what their thoughts are,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said Alpha came out of his 3 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Withers Stakes in “great shape.”

McLaughlin said part of the decision-making process involves the speed figures Alpha gets from various sources. He earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure for the Withers, which was five points higher than his figure earned for winning the Count Fleet on Jan. 7.

Alpha is a bit on the smaller side so there is also a concern of doing too much before the Derby.

“We will look at some figures,’’ McLaughlin said. “If two races are too much do we go Gotham and straight to the Kentucky Derby or wail til the Wood and go 30 days after that?”

McLaughlin said it was unlikely Alpha would run in the Gotham and then go straight to the Kentucky Derby off a nine-week layoff unless he ran an off-the-charts race in the Gotham.

McLaughlin has a tie to I’ll Have Another, the upset winner of Saturday’s Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. That horse is bred by Harvey Clarke, for whom McLaughlin trains. Clarke sold I’ll Have Another for $35,000 at auction. Clarke still has the mare, Arch’s Gal Edith, and McLaughlin trains the gelding Those Wer the Days, a half-brother to I’ll Have Another, who has won four straight.