Racing News

Alpha schools in the gate at Belmont Park

  • Alpha (NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Grade 3 Withers winner and Grade 1 Wood Memorial runner-up Alpha continues to school at the gate at Belmont Park in preparation for the May 5 Kentucky Derby.

Ever since Alpha was fractious in the starting gate prior his 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin and his team have made a concerted effort to improve the colt's behavior at the gate.

"He stood in the gate this morning," assistant trainer Artie Magnuson said. "He was really, really good. We need to keep going. In the afternoon he gets cranked up. Last time (in the Wood Memorial), we didn't have a man in with him. It was (NYRA starter Roy Williamson's) idea at the gate. He said, 'Why don't we try to leave a guy out, but we'll watch. If Ramon (Dominguez) wants someone, we'll grab him.' Sometimes a colt will get distracted. They've done a great job with him."

Magnuson said Alpha likely will breeze at Belmont on Saturday and will fly to Kentucky on Monday. After arriving at Churchill Downs, the Godolphin Racing representative will receive additional gate schooling.

"We'll stand him in the gate at Churchill, and do it their way," Magnuson said. "He's not that terrible, so we'll probably stand him and they'll get to know him, and whatever way they want to do is fine with us."

Like the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the Kentucky Derby will be conducted at Churchill Downs in front of a large crowd. Drawing from his experience from ponying Majestic Shore to post for the 1984 Kentucky Derby, Magnuson described the electric atmosphere on Kentucky Derby Day.

"That's a crazy day," said Magnuson. "It is so loud. It's unbelievable. You feel like you're so small. It's crazy."

Magnuson's sensory overload was understandable, considering it was the first time he had ever ponied a horse to post.

"They asked, 'Do you want to pony one?'" Magnuson recalled. "I said, 'I don't know how to do it.' And they said, 'We need 20 people! Just follow No. 15. Just follow him.' It was (the eventual winner) Swale. I just followed him. It was wild."

Los Alamitos Futurity Added to 2014-15 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Series

The $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (Grade I) has been added to the list of races that comprise the 2014-15 “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The series of 35 select races – 19 “Prep Season” races and 16 “Championship Series” races – will determine which horses qualify to the 141st running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby.

Global View Nips Storming Inti at Wire to Win 23rd Running of Grade II American Turf

Glen Hill Farm's Global View caught Storming Inti in the closing strides

Midnight Lucky Romps in 28th Running of Grade I Humana Distaff

Midnight Lucky, making her first start in more than 11 months, took the lead out of the gate

Coffee Clique Catches Dame Marie Late to Win 29th Running of Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile

Coffee Clique squeezed through an opening along the hedge

California Chrome Wins America’s Greatest Race

164,906 fans pack historic Churchill Downs

Updates Powered by

Visit for expert handicapping, picks and analysis Derby Week and all year long

Derby Stories

Lindsay & Els Chicago, IL

First time at the Oaks so that's why we have these crazy hats on, shaped like cheese hats and painted pink in honor of Bright Pink, which is a great charity.
Paula's picking California Chrome

Kentucky Derby 140 presented by Yum! - The Race

Kentucky Derby 140 - Road to the Derby

Kentucky Derby 140 Intro

Around the Downs - The Stables

The Race

54 Photos


California Chrome is attempting to become only the fourth California-bred, Kentucky Derby winner in history and the first since Decidedly in 1962.