09/14/2012 4:38PM

Belmont: Pennsylvania Derby prospect Alpha looks sharp in five-furlong workout

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Barbara D. Livingston
Alpha, shown training last month at Saratoga, worked five furlongs in 59 seconds Friday in preparation for next weekend's Pennsylvania Derby.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Kiaran McLaughlin hadn’t seen Alpha in 10 days before Friday morning, the day after the trainer returned to New York from the Keeneland yearling sales. He arrived in Saratoga just in time to watch the co-Travers winner work a solid five furlongs in 59 seconds over the synthetic surface at the Godolphin training center.

“He looks great, worked super, all systems go,” McLaughlin said.

As he has been doing periodically with his horses, McLaughlin had Alpha work right-handed as opposed to left-handed. McLaughlin just likes the change of pace it affords the horses and given he has the opportunity to do it at his own private training facility, he takes advantage of it.

It was Alpha’s last work before next Saturday’s Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby in which he will face Golden Ticket, with whom he dead-heated for win in the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 25. Others pointing to the 1 1/8-mile race include Casual Trick, Csaba, Handsome Mike, Macho Macho, and Stephanoatsee. Fed Biz is possible.

Since a temperature knocked Alpha out of the Belmont Stakes in early June, little has gone wrong for Alpha, who won the Jim Dandy by two lengths July 28 before coming back to gain a dead heat with Golden Ticket in the Travers.

“Everything’s gone well, no temperatures, no issues,” McLaughlin said.

The one negative McLaughlin sees regarding the Pennsylvania Derby is that as a Grade 1 winner this year, Alpha has to carry 124 pounds and both he and Golden Ticket will be spotting 10 pounds to all but Macho Macho, who is the only other graded winner being pointed to the race.

A similar scenario exists in the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion for 3-year-old fillies in which the McLaughlin-trained Questing, winner of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks and Grade 1 Alabama, will have to give My Miss Aurelia, last year’s 2-year-old champion filly, seven pounds. My Miss Aurelia, a dual Grade 1 winner at 2, won her only start this year, a 6 1/2-furlong overnight stakes at Saratoga.

“It’s the way the conditions are written,” McLaughlin said. “That’s unfortunate for us.”

Others pointing to the Cotillion are Dixie Strike and Eden’s Moon.

McLaughlin said Questing would likely work Sunday at Saratoga.

Csaba breezes for Pennsylvania Derby

Phil Gleaves flew to Saratoga on Thursday night from Miami and on Friday morning he put two of his stakes horses through workouts.

Csaba, beaten a nose in the off-the-turf Hall of Fame Stakes, worked four furlongs in 49.22 seconds over the Oklahoma training track. Miami Cat, who won the Equalize Stakes, worked four furlongs in 48.60 over the Belmont turf course. He is being pointed to the Grade 1 Jamaica at Belmont on Oct. 6, with a possible start in the $200,000 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park on Sept. 22.

Gleaves had considered running Csaba in the Travers, but ultimately decided against that, opting to try the colt one more time on the turf. He finished ninth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, in the Equalize Stakes.

“He’s just not as effective on the turf as he is on the dirt,” Gleaves said. “We left him up here and were looking for a race, and that seemed to fit the bill.”

Gleaves said Rajiv Maragh would ride Csaba in the Pennsylvania Derby.

John Howland More than 1 year ago
The Cotillion is a Gr1,The Pa. Derby is a Gr2,same purse.They probably want another Gr1 for her,but your's is an interesting scenario.Nice to have those options.
John Howland More than 1 year ago
My post is in responens to T Cook's scenario below.
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
Would love to seee Fed Biz run in PAD, and if Gemologist is healthy he has already beat Alpha, hope he is ready to go again
B More than 1 year ago
She's interesting, but she ain't going to beat the boys running so erratically.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Change the bit. Full cheek snaffle might,help. Or cheaters so she stops lookin back.
Wayne Haehner More than 1 year ago
Kiaran will win both $1 mil races easily and My Miss Aurelia completes the $4 exacta in the Cotillion
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
Sounds like a daily double play to me if they carded it and offer it, but it won't pay much--however, a win is a win.
PennNatRick More than 1 year ago
Parx will offer Double Wagering for the Cotillion/Derby. Parx also rolls their Pick 3's. I believe it would be an all stakes pick 3. Gallant Bob, Cotillion and PAD. Also hearing 15k plus will be there.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
If you bet chalk in every race, you'll win 35 percent of the time and a 20pt negative ROI. That is actually better than most handicappers. Go chalk!!
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Would love to see Questing run against the boys in The Penn Derby. She'll get the weight and who can top her last performance?? Run Alpha in The Gold Cup at Belmont against older males. It's about that time.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
As a G1 winner Questing will spot 10 pounds while picking up 5 for sex, so she will be the co-second highweight with Macho Macho if she is to run in the PA Derby while getting 5 pounds from Golden Ticket and giving 5 to the other colts. I would bet Fed Biz against Alpha at equal weight. It is not a slam dunk for Alpha, who is not good enough to beat older horses in the JCGC. Kiaran and Godolphin win at a high percentage because they are clever at spotting their horses. For those who are interested in staying in this game for a long period of time, it is about winning not guts and glory. The latter is a good strategy in the EA Sports Horseracing Simulation.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Agree about Kiaran and Godolphin.. However, I cannot endorse Baffert no matter how talented Fed Biz may be. I think Alpha is steadily improving to run to his pedigree. He has progressed since his layoff from the Kentucky Derby. Maybe older males are a step above right now, but he has the nice angle of 3rd race off that mentioned layoff. A very nice angle for handicapping. I myself haven't wagered since Charismatic broke down in The Belmont, but I do work with these animals daily. I strongly believe Questing is the best 3 year old running right now, filly or colt.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Also I love taking the weight whenever possible in routes. I don't thing 3 or 5 lbs matter too much in sprints. But over a distance it makes a huge difference.
B More than 1 year ago
She's interesting, but she ain't going to beat the boys if she continues to run so erratically in the stretch.