A contingent of three horses who trained in Aiken at the Aiken Training Track, and are campaigned by Godolphin Racing, are among the entries for this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Alpha, Fortify and Emcee were broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones.
Alpha is Grade-1 winner and a four-time stakes winner during his sophomore campaign. He’ll be running in the $5 million Grade-1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. The 3-year-old son of Bernardini drew the No. 3 hole in the 1¼-mile race and will have two-time Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramon Dominguez in the irons. Kiaran McLaughlin conditions the bay colt, who’s 20-to-1 in the morning line odds.
“Alpha, he’s always been tough,” Jones said of the colt that he added doesn’t always get the support he deserves, and has his fair share of critics. “They’ve shot him out of the saddle before the race has been run, and he usually runs a huge race.”
Alpha won the Count Fleet Stakes and Grade-3 Withers Stakes this winter at Aqueduct, and scored victories this summer in Saratoga in the Grade-2 Jim Dandy and dead heated with Golden Ticket in the Grade-1 Travers Stakes, a race at the same distance as the Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, Alpha bounced in his last race, the Grade-2 Pennsylvania Derby, where he finished 6th. Alpha has never won outside of New York.
“He’s going to have to step up to the plate and run the race of his life,” said Jones. “He’ll have to do everything right in the gate and paddock, where he’s had some previous issues. Hopefully, he’ll school well ot there. He’ll have to be on his best game to win the race. He belongs in the race, and deserves a shot. He’ll have to perform at his highest level.”
Alpha has won five times and placed twice more from 10 starts. He has lifetime earnings of $1,270,000.
Godolphin’s Fortify will be running in the $2 million Grade 1 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The 11/16-mile race will feature 2-year-old colts running lasix free. Fortify drew post position No. 8 in the nine horse field and is the 9-to-2 third choice in the morning line odds.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez gets the return call, and McLaughlin will saddle the bay son of Grade-2 winner Distorted Humor.
Fortify won at first asking and was second in the Grade-2 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga before finishing third in the Grade-1 Champagne at Belmont Park. The winner of both of those races is also among the field’s starters, Shanghai Bobby.
“We thought he (Fortify) was one of the four or five top horses we had,” said Jones. “He hasn’t raced on Lasix and Shanghai Bobby has in his previous races. I think the fact he hasn’t run on Lasix previously will play in our favor.”
Fortify has bankrolled $148,000 in three starts.
Emcee collected his first stakes victory in his last start. The son of Grade-1 winner Unbridled’s Song, Emcee won the seven-furlong Grade-1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga. The 4-year-old bay colt drew post position No. 7 in the field of nine entries in the 1-mile $1 million Grade-1 Dirt Mile.
Emcee is also conditioned by McLaughlin and will have Alan Garcia up. Emcee is the 5-to-2 second choice in the morning line odds.
“He’s a horse who has a very good chance,” said Jones. “He’s kind of a sleeper. He’s coming into race off of a very good effort.”
Emcee has four wins and two third-place finishes from seven lifetime starts and has earned $479,900.