08/26/2012 2:02PM

Saratoga: Travers co-winners could meet again in Pennsylvania Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Alpha closes the gap on Golden Ticket just before reaching the wire together in Saturday's Travers.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - There won’t be a run-off to determine a sole winner of this year’s Travers Stakes, but there could be a rematch between Travers dead-heat winners Alpha and Golden Ticket in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 22.

 Kiaran McLaughlin, the trainer of Alpha, and Ken McPeek, the trainer of Golden Ticket, both mentioned the Pennsylvania Derby, run at 1 1/8 miles, as prospective next targets for their colts. McPeek said that was the race was he leaning toward. McLaughlin also mentioned the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 29 at Belmont Park as a possibility.

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Alpha and Golden Ticket finished on the wire together in Saturday’s $1 million Travers, making for the first dead heat in this race since 1874 when Attila and Acrobat dead-heated. That year, there was a run-off to determine the winner and Attila won it.

On Sunday morning, both McLaughlin and McPeek were more appreciative of having dead-heated than had one or the other lost.

 “I think it would have been gut-wrenching for them or me to have lost that race by such a small margin,” McPeek said. “I would have been devastated if we would have been beaten a photo, so a dead heat as opposed to losing, you take what you can get and appreciate the moment.”

 Golden Ticket, who was ridden by David Cohen, was making his first start since May 5. He looked like a winner 100 yards from the wire before Alpha, under Ramon Dominguez, made a final surge, perhaps spurred on by the hard-charging Fast Falcon, who came outside of Alpha and ended up third, beaten a neck.

 “It’s fabulous. It would have been a terrible beat for either one of us,” McLaughlin said. “It’s just a great win. We did look like we were beat 100 yards out. He did run great. We know he’s improved since he’s been up here.”

 Both trainers said their horses came out of the race in good shape though McPeek said Golden Ticket “left a little feed, which is normal after all the excitement.”

 McLaughlin said Alpha would likely continue to reside at the Godolphin training center during the fall and train here leading up to his next race.

Nick Zito, the trainer of Fast Falcon, said his horse came out of the Travers “very, very good.” He said he would not run his horse in the Pennsylvania Derby, but possibly the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

 Zito was somewhat frustrated by falling a neck short especially after his horse had to steady and go around a tiring Street Life at the three-eighths pole.

“But I’m very happy, very ecstatic, very grateful,” said Zito, who lost the Travers by a nose two years ago with Fly Down for the same owner, Richard Pell. “We’ll certainly look for a mile-and-a-quarter race for him. He was still running at the end and that’s a big factor, when you know a horse can run that far.”