There must be something about the Empire State.
The 2012 Aiken Trained Horse of the Year, Godolphin Racing’s Alpha, returned to the winner’s circle Saturday afternoon, and did it in style. The 4-year-old son of Bernardini went gate-to-wire, over an off track, to capture the 60th running of the 1 1/8-mile, $750,000, Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. However, Alpha did it in dramatic fashion, holding off the challenge of his rival, Flat Out, to score a head victory. Alpha was broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones.
All six of Alpha’s victories have come in New York, four at Saratoga Race Course, and two at Aqueduct. The last time the multiple graded stakes winner found himself in the winner’s circle was during his sophomore campaign, when he dead heated for first with Golden Ticket in the 143rd edition of the Travers Stakes. Alpha is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin
The colt broke alertly, setting the early fractions while responding to the confident handling of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, and was well in hand leaving the backstretch. Alpha responded to the challenge of Flat Out, turning back his foe in the stretch, before digging in determinedly, and repulsing his rival’s final contentious attempt at wresting away the victory to win by a head. Alpha’s score in the Woodward Stakes snapped a six race losing streak, one that dates back to Sept. 22, 2012. It was the first victory of Alpha’s 4-year-old campaign, one that saw him finish no bettter than fourth in his four previous starts in 2013.
Alpha won the Count Fleet Stakes, the Grade 3 Withers Stakes, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes and dead heated for first in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes during his sophomore campaign. The multiple Grade 1 winner increased his lifetime earnings to $1,772,500.