05/01/2012 12:14PM

Kentucky Derby 2012: McLaughlin glad to have Alpha at Churchill

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Barbara D. Livingston
Alpha gallops over the Churchill Downs track on Tuesday morning.

Following his Monday arrival, Wood Memorial runner-up Alpha was on the track Tuesday morning for a 1 3/8-mile gallop. Though a routine exercise, it was significant in the fact that his presence here made the Derby seem more of a reality to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Alpha suffered a cut on his left shin in the Wood that developed into an infection that needed to be treated with antibiotics and forced Alpha to miss one work.

“I thought we were in real trouble five, six, days out of the” Wood, McLaughlin said. “It got a little scary with it not healing properly. As soon as we switched antibiotics, it got better and better.”

McLaughlin said before he left Belmont Park on Monday, he shook hands with assistant trainer Art Magnuson and said “it’s almost a miracle we’re here.”

On Tuesday, Alpha suffered a superficial cut to the back of his right front ankle jogging in the shed row for the state veterinarians.
Alpha also received a shot of the medication Polyglycan, which he receives weekly. The therapeutic drug is used to heal cartilage.

McLaughlin said he planned on taking Alpha to the starting gate Wednesday. In last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Alpha reared up in the gate, unseating jockey Garrett Gomez.

“I want the gate crew to see how much better he is now,” McLaughlin said. “I feel like that’s all behind us, but with 150,000 people screaming, you don’t know.”