Tuesday, 31 July 2012
: Godolphin colt Alpha looks sure to be a major player in the rest of the season's major races after an impressive win in the G2 Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.
After missing the Belmont Stakes with a temperature, the son of Bernardini was returning from a 12-week layoff after his Kentucky Derby flop.
A week after Godolphin took the G1 CCA Oaks with Questing, Alpha landed this $600,000 event by two lengths to put himself in pole position for Saratoga's 'midsummer derby', the G1 Travers Stakes on August 25.
"This was the plan all the time, to run in this and back in the Travers," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
"Hopefully, everything goes well for the next four weeks."
Alpha had a fairly easy time of it up front before turning back Neck 'n Neck for a comfortable victory.
"He was superb all the way around there," said jockey Ramon Dominguez. "Turning for home when I shook him up, he just took off for me. It's an indication he'll handle farther and I love the way he was handling himself prior to and after the race."
Alpha was highly-regarded in the early part of the year when he won the Count Fleet Stakes in January and the G3 Withers in February, and was second by a neck to Gemologist in the G1 Wood Memorial in April.
He failed to fire in the Derby and missed the Belmont Stakes after spiking a temperature.
With the Jim Dandy win Alpha improved his record to four wins and two seconds from eight starts.
* COURSE specialist Winter Memories (Jimmy Toner/Javier Castellano) reclaimed her place at the top of the turf fillies' division when she won the G1 Diana at Saratoga.
The four-year-old has now won eight out of 12 career starts, and has a three-from-four record on the turf at Saratoga.
* VETERAN G1 winner Rail Trip (Ron Ellis/Jose Valdivia) will run next in the $1 million Pacific Classic on August 26 after winning for the first time in two years in the G2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.
The seven-year-old, who won the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup in 2009, beat John Scott by a half-length in a race that carries an automatic starting berth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile
It has been a long road back for Rail Trip, now back in the Southern California barn of Ron Ellis for owner Samantha Siegel.
Rail Trip endured an injury-plagued year on the East Coast under trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. and was winless in five starts.
Rail Trip won for the first time since taking the G2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap and G2 Californian in back-to-back efforts at Hollywood Park in the spring of 2010.
ďI said if he won this race we'd consider the Pacific Classic and we'll certainly give it some thought," Ellis said. "We'll see how he trains and how we go forward but it's going to be a consideration.Ē