10/03/2011 3:23PM

Belmont Park: Alpha tunes up for stakes debut in Champagne

Tom Keyser
Alpha, a six-length winner in his debut at Saratoga, will make his stakes debut in Saturday's Champagne at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s stable isn’t known for winning with first-time starters. So when Alpha rolled to a six-length victory in his debut at Saratoga on Sept. 3, it was noteworthy.

Just how good a horse Alpha is will be better known Saturday, when he makes the leap into stakes company in the Grade 1, $300,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park going one mile. The Champagne is a Win and You’re In race, meaning the winner gets a paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5.

Alpha is son of Bernardini, who debuted for Darley Stable but will run in Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin silks Saturday. In his debut, Alpha stalked the pace from fourth while racing along the inside. He came off the rail turning for home, tackled the pacesetter Little Wyatt in upper stretch, and responded to three whacks of jockey Alan Garcia’s whip to win by six. He ran seven furlongs in 1:23.97 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 86.

“To be down inside following a couple and then split horses and go on, that’s a good horse,” said Art Magnuson, assistant to McLaughlin. “He got a lot of education for sure. We don’t breeze behind horses and take a lot of dirt, so he got a lot out of that.”

Magnuson also hopes Alpha got a lot out of a Monday workout over Belmont Park’s training track. With Garcia up, Alpha worked five furlongs in 59.85 seconds inside of stablemate Yankee Fourtune, an older graded stakes winner.

Breaking off from the half-mile pole, the pair went their first quarter in 23.10 and came to the wire in 47.16. They went their last eighth in 12.69 seconds.

“We asked Alan for an honest work, to definitely go out five,” Magnuson said. “That was a serious work from a good horse. He needed to do a little something. He did it willingly in hand. They got a little keen the first part for sure; you don’t want to see that every day, but in the end, we’re happy with the work.”

As many as 10 horses could run in the Champagne. Others considered definite are Invocation, Laurie’s Rocket, No Spin, Speightscity, Takes the Gold and Union Rags. Possible starters include Me and My Gals, Right to Vote, and Power World.

On Monday, Laurie’s Rocket worked five furlongs in 1:00.66 over Belmont’s main track.

B Shanny done for the year

B Shanny was being pointed to the Champagne, but came out of his most recent workout with a chip in a knee, trainer Mike Hushion said Monday.

B Shanny had the chip removed by Dr. Patty Hogan at her clinic in New Jersey last week and will soon be sent to owner Barry Schwartz’s farm to convalesce.

B Shanny, named for the retired National Hockey League star Brendan Shanahan, is a New York-bred son of Street Cry who won a maiden race against open company in his second start after getting beat in a statebred maiden at Belmont first time out.

Frizette features showdown

My Miss Aurelia and Stopshoppingmaria both put in workouts Monday morning for a meeting in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Frizette Stakes, which awards the winner a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

My Miss Aurelia, who went 2 for 2 at Saratoga, including a neck victory in the Adirondack, went an easy half in 50.05 over the main track. Stopshoppingmaria, who won a maiden race in her second start by 9 3/4 lengths the same day My Miss Aurelia won the Adirondack, went four furlongs in 48.16 in company with the juvenile colt Slash Five. The two went very quick early and slowed it down a little bit late. They did gallop out five furlongs in 1:02.92.

My Miss Aurelia and Stopshoppingmaria actually debuted in the same race, but the latter stumbled badly at the start and finished third. Stopshoppingmaria is owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher.

My Miss Aurelia, trained by Steve Asmussen, has been at Belmont for nearly three weeks. On Sept. 26, she breezed six furlongs in 1:12.20.

“I liked the three-quarters she put in here,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to Asmussen. “She needed it, but it was a really good work. She came out of it great. We didn’t do much with her today.”

Others pointing to the Frizette include And Why Not, Miss Netta, and Spare Change.

Winter Memories works on dirt

Winter Memories, the game winner of the Grade 1 Garden City on turf in her last start, worked four furlongs in 49.40 on Monday morning over Belmont Park’s main track. It was her first work on dirt since May when she returned to New York from south Florida.

No, her connections aren’t thinking of entering the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. With all the rain in the New York area over the weekend, New York Racing Association officials did not open the turf course for training Sunday or Monday as they usually do.

The turf was scheduled to be open Tuesday, but Jimmy Toner, trainer of Winter Memories, wanted to get a breeze in Monday in preparation for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 15. Toner said he will come back with a turf breeze here Sunday before shipping the filly to Kentucky on Monday.

“I wanted to do a little something today,” said Toner, who had jockey Javier Castellano up for the breeze. “Nice, easy, comfortable. That’s all we needed.”

Theyskens’ Theory, who was beaten a neck by Winter Memories in the Garden City, worked four furlongs in 48.59 over the dirt Monday. She is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Grade 1, $350,000 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland against older fillies and mares going a mile. That will be her first start under the care of trainer Shug McGaughey.