07/28/2012 6:00PM

Saratoga: Alpha goes straight to the front and stays there to win Jim Dandy

Barbara D. Livingston
Alpha showed he will be a strong factor in the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes by scoring a front-running victory in the 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.

[Complete coverage of racing at Saratoga: News, PPs, and video]

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."

Dogs Up More than 1 year ago
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.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
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.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
Might have just been the Tijuana hot salsa and Mexican jumping beans that got Jim Dandy the win.
John Burton More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Numbers don't lie although I believe your imagination is lying to you. Come out from behind the curtain and say what you have to say and put your name to it. Otherwise just go away.
unmarx1 More than 1 year ago
expand further,please, on 'man over computer'. sounds seriously corrupt,
Panama Stallion More than 1 year ago
Don't pay attention to people who hide behind the "anonymous" tag AND don't provide proof.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
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.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
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.
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
I agree Sam, now Gem even looks better as a winner, if that is possible, as for Atigun terrible ride by JL, choke hold, why? Should have and could have been there, I was happy with Alpha, not with the odds, he's a player but not top shelf.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
DP I believe the reason JL had Attigun on a choke hold under slow fractions, was because he wasn't handling the track well. If a horse is slipping and not getting a hold on the track the jock has to wrap him up to try and get some footing. I believe Attigun ran poorly because of the footing. I'm not expecting him in the Travers unless he gets a work under fast track conditions, otherwise I'd like to see him come back to Belmont and score at a nice price.
Jack Twee More than 1 year ago
Ramon Dominguez won the race and out-classed the other jockeys.
Ronnie Malo Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
There was no speed in the race except Teeth of the Dog, and Alpha had home track advantage.
James Tunick More than 1 year ago
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.
Panama Stallion More than 1 year ago
OK so why was Par Lady scratched? Do you happen to have a better way to offset the scratch than to go with the favourite? I don't like it either, but them´s the racing gods for ya.
nicola c More than 1 year ago
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
Panama Stallion More than 1 year ago
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...................
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok I'll bring it on... I had the Winner, Exacta, and Trifecta in the Derby. Thanks for the money. Taking the winner of the Count Fleet and Withers in the Derby...not a good idea. Case you don't know...the good derby horses winter in Florida or So Cal. It's ok you must be new to the game.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
There are no absolutes in racing. It's ok, you must be new to the game.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Track officials manipulate the tote board and the payout prices in order to keep big chunks of the pool money, yes...even after takeout. it's ok if you didnt know that. you guys must be new to the game.
richard montgomery More than 1 year ago
What the hell are you talking about?
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
You must begin to include your first name, Anon. Oh, and lay off that bad hooch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't drink, thank you very much. I gather that you believe the race tracks are straight and honest behind the curtain?
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
If you know this to be true, why do you play the horses? It's ok, you must be new to the game.
Paul_Tuon More than 1 year ago
Sam, "NO ABSOLUTE in horse racing" exists as a cliche ONLY and not in reality. People or horse plays NEVER abide by that cliche and we see it at the betting windows all time afer time as a proof. Sam--It's ok, you must be new to the game.
Sam Shelby More than 1 year ago
Cant put a comment in any kind of sensible order. It's ok paul, you must be new to the game.
Panama Stallion More than 1 year ago
See post above. Thanks
Panama Stallion More than 1 year ago
Yeah, after 30plus years as an owner I still consider myself new to the game because there are always new things seen in this beautiful activity. I imagine that Smarty Jones, Mine That Bird, Super Saver, War Emblem and Animal Kingdom all got lost on the way to being not "good" derby horses because they missed their flights to Florida and So.Cal. Nobody refers to a "lock" as an absolute. It is meant to imply that if the horse doesn´t break down, the jockey doesn´t fall off or some other sort of calamity, that is the superior horse in that particular field. But it´s ok YOU must be new to the game if you didn´t understand that. BTW, congrats on the Derby betting wins. I got hammered on the tri and super because I didn´t believe that Dullahan was a better horse than Union Rags, Alpha, Gemologist and Creative Cause. I did get the Exacta because I boxed those 4 with IHA and Bode.