Updated 07/28/2012 07:13 PM
The Spa Spot: Aggressive Alpha wires Jim Dandy
Alpha stepped to the lead coming out of the gate and never relinquished that position to win the Grade 2 Jim Dandy by two lengths Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Godolphin Racing's homebred Bernardini colt did not have to face a serious challenge early on from his closest pursuer, Teeth of the Dog, and dictated an easy pace of :24.40, :49.30 an 1:14.03. When Teeth of the Dog stepped up the pressure in the second turn, Alpha rebuffed that attack and had enough left in the stretch of the sloppy sealed track to hold off Neck 'n Neck. Liaison was another two lengths back in third.
Alpha, making his first start since the Kentucky Derby on May 5, was the 9-5 favorite and paid $5.60 to win. After the colt recovered from the fever that caused him to miss the Belmont Stakes, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin sent him to Saratoga to prepare for the Jim Dandy and the Travers. McLaughlin said Alpha is headed to the Travers on August 25.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez changed tactics and rather than stalking and pouncing put the colt in front of the field of eight coming out of the gate.
“[Ramon and I] both thought about [going to the lead] and talked about it," McLaughlin said. "We both thought the same. In the Wood Memorial, he didn’t break well and then he got smashed going into the first turn, and we thought he would be forwardly placed. Here, when you’re in the one hole, you have to go. Ramon thought the same way I did and said, ‘If he breaks well, I’m going.’ I said, ‘I’m all for that.’ 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.”