06/29/2013 2:20PM

Woodbine: Alpha Bettor gets distance test in Dominion Day

Michael Burns
Alpha Bettor wins the Eclipse Stakes in his first start of the year on May 12. He will stretch out from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/4 miles in the Dominion Day.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Alpha Bettor defeated the leading older Polytrack routers at Woodbine on May 12 in the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes. He will test his skills over 1 1/4 miles on the Canada Day holiday Monday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Dominion Day Stakes.

Alpha Bettor had been idle for six months when he won the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse over Delegation and James Street. At 13-1, he was the second-longest price in the five-horse field.

“He’d been training really, really well this spring,” trainer Danny Vella said. “We were expecting a big race, but any time you win, it’s always a bit of a surprise.”

Vella felt the 1 1/4 miles of the Dominion Day should be within the range of Alpha Bettor, a son of Alphabet Soup.

“He’s run very well at a mile and an eighth,” Vella said. “He was second in the Victoria Park Stakes as a youngster. It’s a little uncharted, that extra eighth, but he sure doesn’t act like he won’t do it.”

Delegation missed out on Canadian champion 3-year-old honors last year to Queen’s Plate winner Strait of Dover in a fairly tight Sovereign Award vote. Perhaps the highlight of his season was a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

Delegation’s only poor performance was a distant eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope on Jan. 13 at Gulfstream. Trainer Mark Casse said Delegation bled then, so he gave him a break and then ran him in the allowance prep for the Eclipse after an allowance at Keeneland failed to fill.

Delegation led all the way over a speed-conducive track in that 1 1/16-mile prep, scoring by 3 1/2 lengths in near-Polytrack-record time. He was the heavy favorite in the Eclipse itself, in which he attended the pace in second before coming up a neck short.

“He had won so impressively the time before that maybe he bounced a little bit,” Casse said. “I think he’ll like [a mile and a quarter]. He’s the kind of horse who likes to go out and gallop along.”

Casse also entered Patrioticandproud, who has struggled in graded-stakes company in the United States since capturing an April 7 optional claimer at Keeneland.

James Street rallied wide from well back to finish a close third in the Eclipse. The two-time graded stakes winner was a wide, closing second in the 2011 Dominion Day.

Awesome Overture is unbeaten in three starts, including two front-running scores in allowance company. He could lead the way in his second race with Lasix.

The Presque Isle Downs-based Photo Shoot is the lone shipper in the eight-horse field.