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Saratoga: Alpha has history on his side for Travers
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In addition to being an astute horseman, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin also is a student of history. So on Sunday morning, he was quick to point out that in 2011 the horse that finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby came back to win the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
That horse, Stay Thirsty, is a son of Bernardini, who in 2006 also won the Jim Dandy and Travers.
McLaughlin trains Alpha – a son of Bernardini – who after finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby won Saturday’s $600,000 Jim Dandy by two lengths at Saratoga and will now attempt to add the $1 million Travers on Aug. 25 to his resume.
“If we can do that, that would be great,” said McLaughlin, who trains Alpha for Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum’s Godolphin Racing.
McLaughlin already received word from Godolphin Racing manager Simon Crisford that the Travers is the next start for Alpha, who emerged from his race in good order.
“He cooled out quickly and pulled up great,” McLaughlin said.
In the Jim Dandy, Alpha went gate to wire under Ramon Dominguez, covering 1 1/8 miles over a sloppy track in 1:50.47 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 96.
McLaughlin said that those front-running tactics worked Saturday, but Alpha has already been successful from off the pace should the pace scenario shape up differently in the Travers.
“It was just circumstances yesterday,” McLaughlin said on Sunday. “One hole, wet track, no pace; Ramon thought the same as I did, we need to be forward into the first turn and see what happens. He thought we might be tucked in third.”
The Travers pace scenario will come more into focus following Sunday’s Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and next weekend’s West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer. Paynter, a front-runner, is the favorite in the Haskell, while Hansen, another front-runner, is likely to be favored in the West Virginia Derby.
Trainer Ian Wilkes would like more pace in the Travers for his Jim Dandy runner-up Neck ’n Neck. Despite the loss Saturday, Wilkes said he was very pleased with his colt’s performance and is looking forward to the Travers.
“He was very good in the paddock, he handled the paddock better, he ran straighter, truer, I was just second best yesterday,” Wilkes said Sunday morning. The Travers “pace scenario will be different, it’ll be a different race, maybe a drier track.”
Others pointing to the Travers are Curlin Stakes 1-2 finishers Street Life and Five Sixteen, their connections said Sunday.
One Jim Dandy horse who will not run back in the Travers is fourth-place finisher Teeth of the Dog. Trainer Michael Matz, who believes his horse didn’t handle the wet track, will point Teeth of the Dog to the Smarty Jones at Parx Racing, followed by the Pennsylvania Derby, also at Parx.
I'll go with the odds are against three races in 2011 same horse, repeating itself in the following year as a coincidence, especically three events, not two. The Dandy wasn't one. Slop, sealed, mud, 114 at six. No compression on the leader. Alpha will have real horses in his face for the complete mile and a quarter duration in Travers.
What are the odds alone of the two unrelated events happening again, the 12th finish KD, then Dandy & Travers. Plus a slow muddy sealed track race, wire to wire. I'm taking it to say on chances, he will not win it, and don't have him down to win it anyway.
I for one welcome Paynter and anyone else taking on Alpha in the Travers...Look at Alpha's breeding - big time distance...It was a shame he missed the Belmont Stakes as he was my choice...Alpha showed a different style in the JIm Dandy and that he likes the surface at Saratoga....My guess is that Paynter will go off at even or 4/5 and Alpha 2nd choice at maybe? 2-1...Alpha will take the Travers and pay a better return than he did in the Jim Dandy because of Paynter and Baffert....
THE GRAVEYARD OF HONESTY OR THE PLAY YARD OF THIEVES,thats what this track should be called,it the place were they can curral all the inocent sheep for slaughter.
Let Alpha go to the lead again, and Paynter stalk. Haha another runaway. Bring on the older horses Paynter for HOY!
Alpha also had everything ridiculously his own way in the Jim Dandy. 1:14 for 6 furlongs over a track that wasn't particularly slow. If anyone believes Alpha will have anything close to that easy of a scenario in the Travers will be badly mistaken.. Don't get me wrong. Alpha's a nice horse, and he had enough versatility and quality to take advantage of the lack of pace. But the Travers will present much, much tougher competition and very different circumstances. With Union Rags off to breeding, is Alpha now being asked to carry the torch of New York/East Coast racing in the 3 year old division? The strength of these 3 year olds has been in California and on Sunday we saw the next wave from there with Paynter crushing the Haskell with a 108 Beyer. Unlike Bodemeister, Paynter won't be undone by sending other speed at him, and 10 furlongs should be right in his wheelhouse. Given the lack of pace, Bodemeister might have won the Jim Dandy for fun, and I'm beginning to believe Paynter is even better. Nonios ran 2nd in the Haskell almost to emphasize the quality of the Cali contingent of 3 year olds. And why no mention of Liaison? He missed the break, was next to last behind those sorry Jim Dandy fractions, had to go wide, but yet ran 3rd beaten just 2 by Neck n Neck for 2nd.
Alpha is the horse to beat in The Travers. Coming off a 3 month layoff he was bound to show speed. Even though the race was slow considering the sloppy track he showed a nice kick pulling away from Neck and Neck in the stretch. His only bad races came at Churchill where he obviously doesn't like the surface. With a race over the track and this win under his belt he looks really tough. Paynter is probably his only concern with Neck and Neck over a fast track. Congratulations to his connections. Was a nice idea to let him run and not choke the race out of him.
Gemologist needed one
Not if Paynter runs. If he does, Alpha is in danger of being lapped. Look at how the massively overrated Gemologist was crushed today. Any questions?
There fixing them good today at Saratoga. Dominguez keeps Karlovy Vary in traffic all the way around at 3-5. Was so obvious.
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