The 2012 Aiken Trained Horse of the Year will be making his turf debut on Saturday.


Godolphin Racing’s Alpha is entered in the 22nd running of the 1 3/8-mile, $200,000, Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Alpha was broken and trained in Aiken by Tim Jones. The multiple Grade 1 winning son of Bernardini is conditioned at the racetrack by Kiaran McLaughlin.


“The main reason we’re running him in a turf race is that he’s out of a Nijinsky II mare (Munnaya) who ran her whole career on the turf in England,” said McLaughlin, in a phone interview on Wednesday morning. “We had always thought about the turf with him. He worked well on the dirt, and we were happy with that, but he worked great on the turf.”


Alpha won the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes over an off track at Saratoga Race Course during his 4-year-old campaign, McLaughlin wanted to take advantage of working him on the turf at Palm Meadows Training Center, and there are a number of opportunities during the winter racing calendar where here could start the 5-year-old horse on the turf.


“He likes to run on an uncontested lead and likes it open, and he should have an uncontested lead on Saturday,” said McLaughlin. “If it rains, he likes to run in the slop. If it works out that he does well on the turf this could be a whole new chapter in his career.”