- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Alpha could contest Gotham or wait for Wood
Sporting a brand-new New York Giants cap in honor of their appearance in Sunday night's Super Bowl XLVI, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin reported that Alpha returned from his Withers CXXXII victory in good order and would likely take the next step to the Kentucky Derby in New York.
"We'll look at the Gotham/Wood, talk to (Godolphin racing manager) Simon Crisford and see if we want to run him two more times, or one more time," said McLaughlin, referring to Aqueduct's Grade 3, $400,000 Gotham on March 3 and the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 7.
"We like having him here in New York."
If Alpha were to run in the Wood, McLaughlin said he might ship to Florida to train.
The decision to run Alpha in the January 7 Count Fleet and Saturday's Grade 3Withers was made initially to keep him and another Godolphin son of Bernardini, Consortium, on divergent paths to the Triple Crown, said the trainer.
"We thought Consortium was equally good, and we wanted to split them up," McLaughlin said. "Then he ran terrible in the slop, (last of six) in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream. We still think he's a good colt, but we're not sure which way we are going to go with him."
Withers runner-up Speightscity is likely to make his next appearance in the Gotham, according to Marcelo Arenas, assistant to trainer Gary Contessa. The son of Speightstown proved the best of the rest in Saturday's race, finishing 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Tiger Walk.
"He had a very bad trip (when fifth in the Count Fleet)," Arenas said. "But he's a nice horse, and we really think he's the best horse we have in the barn. We believed in him, and he showed us yesterday he can do it. He ran a big race."
Speightscity checked in fifth behind Alpha in the Count Fleet after a stumbling start and a wide trip. A maiden winner closing weekend at Saratoga going 1 1/8 miles, he finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and eighth in the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct before winning an inner-track optional claimer on December 15 to cap his two-year-old season.
Withers fourth How Do I Win grabbed a quarter at some point on Saturday, according to Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.
"He looked good this morning," Beckman said. "He must have grabbed a quarter on the outside of his right front foot, either before or after the race, maybe when he dropped (jockey) Cornelio (Velasquez) in the post parade."