Aiken trained runners, Alpha, Villanesca and Midnight Watch ready for upcoming stakes races
Several high profile horses bred by Darley Stable and broken and trained by Tim Jones in Aiken, will return in stakes races in the next few weeks.
One of those, the 2012 Aiken trained Horse of the Year, Alpha, will return on Sept. 28, and will lock horns with Dogwood Stable’s Grade 1 winner, Palace Malice, in the 1 1/4-mile, $750,000, Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont Park. The son of Bernardini, who is campaigned under the Godolphin Racing banner, stopped a six race losing streak in his last start, the 1 1/8-mile, $750,000, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. The 4-year-old colt, turned back the challenge of his rival Flat Out to win the added money event by a head, over an off track and under the confident handling of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
“It was a great win for the team,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, Alpha’s trainer, in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “He’s been training great. We put the blinkers back on him. He had them on in the Godolphin Mile. The key was that he broke running.”
Stakes winner, Darley Stable’s 4-year-old sprint specialist, the talented homebred filly, Villanesca, will return in the 6 1/2-furlong, $300,000 Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 21.
The chestnut daughter of Grade 2 winner Distorted Humor, was beaten less than two-lengths on Aug. 23 in the 7-furlong, Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga.
“We’re very pleased with her,” said McLaughlin. “She’s doing well. Irad (Ortiz Jr.) rode her very well.”
Midnight Watch, a Darley homebred, who joined the stakes winning ranks in her last start, with a one-length score in the one-mile Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 30, will also return this fall. McLaughlin is still weighing the options as to where he’ll point the chestnut daughter of Stormy Atlantic next.
“We’re considering the Pebbles Stakes on Oct. 14 at Belmont Park or the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Keeneland,” said McLaughlin.