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Saratoga: Alpha goes straight to the front and stays there to win Jim Dandy
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - When trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and jockey Ramon Dominguez discussed the strategy they wanted to employ with Alpha in Saturday's Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes, they both concluded they wanted to be forwardly placed.
When Alpha easily glided over the Saratoga slop to an uncontested lead entering the first turn, McLaughlin and Dominguez knew they made the right call.
Alpha used his early tactical advantage to cruise to a two-length victory in Saturday's $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes and make him one of the favorites for next month's $1 million Travers Stakes.
Six of the last 11 Jim Dandy winners have come back to win the Travers, including Bernardini (2006), the sire of Alpha who won for the fourth time in eight career starts.
Neck 'n Neck, who raced in third position early, finished second by two lengths over Liaison. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back Teeth of the Dog in fourth. He was followed in the order of finish by My Adonis, Atigun, Fast Falcon, and Prospective.
Alpha, owned by Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Godolphin Racing, hadn't run since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby on May 5. He spiked a temperature while preparing for the Belmont Stakes and was not entered in that race.
He shipped to Saratoga in mid-June and was training exceptionally well over the main track coming into the race. He ran like he trained.
Breaking from the rail Dominguez, Alpha floated to a one-length lead over Teeth of the Dog, under Joel Rosario, through an opening quarter in 24.40 seconds. Positions remained unchanged through a half in 49.30 and the race was basically over.
"When you're in the one hole here you need to go," McLaughlin said. "He thought the same way I did. He said if he breaks well I'm going. He wasn't going to rush him off his feet, but he wanted to be on the lead, so it was a great call and it all worked out."
Alpha got away with six furlongs in 1:14.03, so when Neck 'n Neck tried to make a run at him in the stretch, Alpha had plenty left to kick away. He did need some encouragement from Dominguez, who hit him twice left-handed and twice again right-handed in the stretch.
"I found myself in front and relaxed at the same time, very happy that I wasn't getting any immediate challenge, so I was able to get away with the slowest fractions you possibly can in this type of race," Dominguez said. "Turning for home when I felt the challenge . . . it seemed like it took him a couple of strides to keep going. Because he was so quiet I opened up my reins a couple of times and inside the eighth pole it felt like he kicked into another gear."
Alpha covered the 1 1-8 miles in 1:50.47 and returned $5.60 as the 8-5 favorite.
Ian Wilkes, the trainer of Neck 'n Neck, knew his horse's chances would be compromised by the slow pace, but was still happy with the way his horse ran and will point to the Travers.
"He took the initiative he went to the front and he won," Wilkes said of Alpha. "But I was very pleased, my horse ran great. This horse is still learning, he's getting it together."
This was a s-lo-w race. Six panels in 114 and a wire job no less. A 1:50 and .47 in the Travers will have a horse about seven to ten lenghts out of contention. Alpha had no compression from the field. This colt will have plenty of contenders to his left and right in the Travers. A win is a win but I don't think this race put a feeling of the track surface under him (unless it rains on Travers day) and the horse didn't get to be surrounded by early and late runners with grinners on his immediate side. This was only eight horses, none going in with a G1. As opposed to the Haskell, only six contenders, but a lot was gained by a race with pressure, stalking within contention, passing a front leader and ridden out.
el capo strikes again,six furlongs in 1.14.03 says it all,"i was able to get away with the slowest fractions you can" read my buddies let me do whatever i want to in a race.1.14.03 in a graded stakes at saratoga going 1 1/8m is really stealing the race,the horse jim dandy lost 19 races at tijuana mexico then came to saratoga and beat gallant man,gallant man's rec for the year 10 starts 9 wins(his lone loss was to jim dandy at the spa) jim dandy's record for the year 20 starts one win.i guess the cheating has been ingrained for a long time,and its kind of interesting that jim dandy gets a race named after him very appropriate.
Were the other jockeys asleep at the wheel in the Jim Dandy parade that took place on Saturday, July 28th? It sure looked like it! And it looked more like a parade than a race - and a boring one at that! Ramon and Kiran laughed all of the way to the finish line! Sometimes jockeys over-think in big races and run with their heads and not their instincts. When the majority of jockeys in a stake race do this it makes for a very boring event - one lacking excitement and energy two of the core characteristics that make horse racing so entertaining and enjoyable! Are you listening jockeys? Ride like the wind! Ride with your heart and soul - not your head! - Dr. Max
Get inside any track's "totaliser room" as I have, and you will never again bet on a horse race. It is man over computer is all you need to know. The track takeout is like a tip to the main rake. I quit betting races that very day.
Alpha is a nice horse, very classy, but he did have evrything his way in here. Have to believe it won't be that easy in the Travers. He'll have to run faster to win that race. But still, he's a solid contender. Neck n' Neck did run well, and tried to make a race of it. He's not quite there, in terms of contending against the best(remaining) of the generation, but he's getting closer. Don't sleep on Liaison's performance. He was shipping cross-country and running over a sloppy surface he had little if any experience over. Then, he breaks slow and finds himself next to last behind a very slow pace. Yet, there was Liaison grinding away on the far turn, going wide into the stretch. But he kept coming and got up 3rd. I'm not sure he really wants 10 furlongs, but if Baffert brings him back for the Travers he is bound to get a more favorable trip and set-up than he did here. That's 3 straight placings in graded stakes; Liaison is not a top horse, but he has rounded into a consistent contender in what is a depleted division. And he showed he can dirt. The Belmont Stakes also-rans didn't flatter that race.
Dont count out the 3 yr olds yet. Except for 2 bombs at churchill Alphas been pretty good. The early speed was surprising, but nothing wrong with versatility. Still cant believe Atigun was a nolo contendre. Nothing I do works right now. Insufficient funds to play the Haskell now. Gemoligist probably wins now. He was my pick.
Ramon Dominguez won the race and out-classed the other jockeys.
Another new low for the pick 6 betting system, this time at Arlington. I was 4/4 going into the 10th. I had the 8 (Par Lady) with the 1,2,4,6,9,12 and also had the 2,8 with the 8. Par Lady scratches at the gate and they move my ticket all on the post time favorite who I already had and didn't really like as my top pick. I was looking for a closer in a speedy 1 1/8 turf race. This cost me $5,000. I am tired of the way these tracks treat the bettors who give them their living.
he prob is the class horse out of that group , im kicking myself i went with neck n neck, U.S racing tonight for me was throwing money down a rat hole, but that's gambling roll on the haskell tomorrow something is telling me gemologist , but that's prob the same crap that told me to back the losers tonight lol
This one was a lock. I really liked his chances in Kentucky and had him in my Top 4 for that race, but he never fired. I am glad he is back. Congratulations are in order to Godolphin and all their connections for not rushing Alpha back until the horse decided it was time. Bring on the naysayers...................
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