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Alpha leaning toward Wood
As of Sunday morning, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin appeared to be in a New York state of mind when thinking about the next start for Godolphin runner Alpha.
McLaughlin said he was leaning toward the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 7 at Aqueduct for Kentucky Derby hopeful Alpha, winner of the Count Fleet and Grade 3 Withers at the Big A earlier this year.
Alpha shipped to Florida to train at Palm Meadows after his Withers victory on February 4 and a start in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 31 had been under consideration.
"Today, the Wood is most likely," McLaughlin said by phone from Florida. "I think the only way we run in the Florida Derby is if they decide not to run Union Rags and El Padrino for some reason."
Union Rags -- who defeated Alpha in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park last October -- was narrowly beaten by eventual two-year-old champion Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and easily won his sophomore debut in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on February 26. El Padrino earned his graded stakes breakthrough with a gutsy nose victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds the previous day. Both colts are pointing for the Florida Derby.
McLaughlin said the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on April 1 was a secondary possibility for Alpha.
"Our second choice would be the Louisiana Derby," McLaughlin noted. "We feel comfortable in New York and Florida because that's where we're stabled."
Alpha worked five furlongs in 1:01 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows, his fourth breeze since the Withers.
"He worked great," McLaughlin said. "He's really doing very well. All systems are go and we're very happy with him."
Trainer Chad Brown is eyeing the Wood Memorial with Street Life, who on Saturday won his stakes debut, Aqueduct's Broad Brush overnight stakes.
In the 1 1/16-mile Broad Brush, Street Life found himself in fourth, 5 1/2 lengths behind the leader, through three-quarters in 1:15 1/5, but was able to reel in pacesetter Copy My Swagger to get up by a half-length under jockey Junior Alvarado.
"I thought he ran well, and he overcame a slow pace," said Brown, who trains the son of Street Sense for Magnolia Racing Stable and Hidden Brook Farm. "He's still learning, but he has talent."
Street Life has made three starts to date, finishing eighth on debut at six furlongs on January 5 at Gulfstream Park and breaking his maiden by 2 1/2 lengths going one mile on February 11 at Aqueduct. In both the Broad Brush and his maiden win, Street Life lagged early before launching a strong stretch run.
"(A slow pace is) always a concern, but he has a tremendous amount of stamina, and when Junior asked him for more he gave it to him," Brown said. "That's how he has trained and raced all along, so that wasn't a surprise."
Brown said he'll see how Street Life exits the Broad Brush before he decides the colt's next start, but said the Wood Memorial would be a logical choice.
"I'd definitely consider the Wood," Brown said. "The race is back a little quick, but we wouldn't have to ship. And he hasn't really had the chance to run into an honest pace."