Godolphin Racing LLC's multiple grade stakes winner, Alpha, has been selected as the 2012 Aiken Trained Horse-of-the-Year. The son of the 2006 Eclipse Award winning 3-year-old male, Bernardini, placed first in four stakes races during his sophomore season. Alpha was broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones. The bay colt is conditioned by trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. A ceremony for Alpha will be held March 17, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. at the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.
Alpha's four stakes scores all came at different distances during his 3-year-old campaign. His victories this winter were in the 1-mile and 70 yards Count Fleet Stakes and the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Withers Stakes, with both races being contested at Aqueduct. Alpha's success continued during the summer months with wins in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes over an off track, and Alpha finished in a dead heat with Golden Ticket in the 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Alpha also just missed by a neck in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes this spring at Aqueduct.
“He's a great horse, has a great personality, trains well, and does everything right,” said McLaughlin, in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “Tim Jones and his crew did everything right with him as a yearling and young 2-year-old.”
However, his 12th place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, was an anomaly in an otherwise strong first half of 2012.
“He's had his ups and downs this year, but mostly ups,” said McLaughlin. “He didn't run well in the Derby. He doesn't seem to like Churchill Downs.”
The stakes winning colt spiked a fever the week of the Belmont Stakes, keeping him out of the third jewel of Thoroughbred Racing's Triple Crown.
“The fever was a blessing in disguise,” said McLaughlin. “We sent him to Saratoga to train on June 2, and he was ready for the Jim Dandy, which he won easy (2-length victory), and then the dead heat in the Travers.”
All four of his stakes wins have come in New York, and Alpha would finish sixth in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.
“He gave 10 pounds to the winner,” said McLaughlin. “He didn't run terrible, but didn't run well.”
Alpha would ship to Santa Anita Park for the $5 million 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic, where he would finish 12th.
“It was a poor performance, a tough race,” said McLaughlin. “It was the first time he ran against older horses.”
The new year will find Alpha in a different environment and on a new continent, said McLaughlin.
“Alpha was left out in California, in quarantine, and will go to Dubai for the winter,” said McLaughlin. “Maybe, he'll come back to us next summer.”
Alpha has 5 wins, 2 seconds from 11 lifetime starts, and has bankrolled $1,270,000.