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Jan 13, 2012

Count Fleet Stakes belongs to Alpha


Ozone Park, NY (Sports Network) - Odds-on favorite Alpha put himself in the Kentucky Derby picture with a solid victory in Saturday's $150,000 Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct. The Count Fleet is Aqueduct's first stakes of 2012 for three-year-olds.

Alpha, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, went off as the 4-5 favorite in the seven-horse field. With Ramon Dominguez in the saddle the colt broke well from the gate and laid third behind pacesetter and 5-2 second pick Il Villano.

On the turn for home the favorite drew even with Il Villano with How Do I Win moving into third. Alpha took the lead with a furlong to run and went on to post a 2 1/2-length win over the late running Stephanoatsee.

Finishing third was Il Villano followed by How Do I Win, Speightscity. Whistleblower and Shkspeare Shaliyah.

Owned by Godolphin Racing, Alpha covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:42.83 on a fast track.

"Turning for home, he responded every time I asked him," said Dominguez. "He galloped out so strong that I had to get an outrider to pull him up. You always have to go just by what you have seen, but judging by today he should be able to handle more distance."

Alpha added $90,000 to his bankroll, doubling it to $180,000. Last year he was second to Union Rags in the Champagne and 11th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile won by Hansen with Union Rags second. Saturday's victory was the colt's second in four career starts.

"It was a great day," McLaughlin said from Florida. "We'll probably leave him there (in New York) - we'll probably go to the Withers (February 4) and on to the Wood with Alpha. For sure we'll have to talk to the Godolphin people, but that's what we'll look at for right now."

Alpha returned $3.60, $2.60 and $2.10. Stephanoatsee paid $4.40 and $2.90, and Il Villano paid $3.00 to show.

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