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Alpha works stiff five furlongs at Belmont
With an eye on the first Saturday in May, Alpha worked over the Belmont Park training track Saturday morning, turning in a :59 2/5 five-furlong breeze with Rajiv Maragh aboard.
Going in company with stablemate Steele Road, Alpha was caught by NYRA clockers traveling the opening eighth of a mile in :11 3/5, a quarter in :23 1/5, and a half in :47. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.
The breeze was Alpha's first since his second-place finish to Gemologist in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 7. Alpha is scheduled to fly to Louisville on Monday for an expected start in next Saturday's Grade 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
"That was a little bit faster than most of our horses work," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the son of Bernardini for Godolphin Racing. "He's only having this one work in between (the Wood and the Derby), so we wanted a good, solid half-out-five-eighths. He got a good, solid half-out-five-eighths in 59 and change, so it was a great work."
"The horse went really well. He started off nice and comfortable, and finished up really good and galloped out strong. It seems like he's right on target," Maragh added.
McLaughlin said Maragh could ride Alpha in the Derby but isn't ready to make a commitment to any particular rider.
"This week I'm talking to (Godolphin Racing Manager) Simon Crisford in England to firm up the jockey, but that's why we wanted him to work (with Maragh). If we entered this morning, he would be riding, but we just want to see if any other jockeys come open over the weekend and we would talk about it. He still might ride him if jockeys come open, but that's why we haven't named a rider. But (Maragh) liked him, and he said he galloped out great and did everything right, worked very well."
McLaughlin acknowledged that a fast pace could provide an ideal set up for Alpha, but also realizes that it takes more than having a talented horse and favorable pace scenario to win the Derby.
"We're happy there's a lot of pace, and we just hope we behave in the gate," McLaughlin said. "I feel like that's behind us. He schools all the time, he's great. You have to have a good trip and not get behind one (that's) stopping late."
Video of Alpha's work can be seen here.