The 2012 Aiken Trained Horse-of-the-Year Godolphin Racing’s Alpha returns Saturday in the 127th running of the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.
The 4-year-old son of Bernardini was broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones.
A winner of four stakes races during his sophomore campaign, the bay colt is aiming to return to the winner’s circle since dead heating with Golden Ticket for first in last summer’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. Alpha has made two starts in 2013, both in Dubai, and failed to hit the board in either start. The colt has been training well since his return to the U.S., said Kiaran McLaughlin, Alpha’s trainer.
“He’s doing great and has really matured since coming back from Dubai,” said McLaughlin, in a phone interview on Wednesday afternoon. “You can see the difference in the way he looked as a 3-year-old and the way he looks now as a 4-year-old.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. has the riding assignment on Alpha, and the colt is the 5/1 third choice on the morning line in the 1⅛-mile race. McLaughlin would have preferred a different post position in the five-horse field. The Grade 1 winner will also be without another key variable for Saturday’s $350,000 contest.
“We drew the 1-hole,” said McLaughlin. “It’s not the greatest. We’re missing an important ingredient in that he won’t be ridden by Ramon Dominguez (the jockey announced his retirement this spring).”
Alpha has 5 wins and 2 seconds from 13 starts, and has earnings of $1.3 million.
However, Alpha isn’t the only horse in the Godolphin Racing stable drawing attention, Inocgnito is also on the radar and is preparing for his summer campaign at Greentree Training Center in Saratoga, said McLaughlin. The son of A.P. Indy ran fourth in this year’s Belmont Stakes. Incognito was broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones.
“We’re going to point him to either the 1⅛-mile Curlin Stakes on July 26 or the Jim Dandy on July 27,” said McLaughlin.
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.