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Feb 09, 2012

Alpha rolls to victory in Withers


Ozone Park, NY (Sports Network) - Odds-on favorite Alpha cruised to victory on Saturday in the $200,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. The race, which was not run last year, is a prep event for Aqueduct's $1 million Wood Memorial on April 7.

Sent off as the 3-10 favorite in the six-horse field, Alpha was never far off the pace that was being set by How Do I Win. With Ramon Dominguez riding, the favorite drew even with the leader on the final turn and took command at the top of the stretch.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Alpha went on to post a 3 1/4-length victory over 44-1 longshot Speightscity. Coming from last to finish third was 6-1 third pick Tiger Walk followed by How Do I Win, King Kid and Hakama. Swag Daddy was a scratch.

The favorite covered the 1 1/16-miles in 1:44.23 on a fast track.

"He was great in the gate," said McLaughlin. "We've been schooling him a lot. It worked out today. Obviously it's nice to be outside, but at some point he's going to have to be inside, so we'll see how our schooling is working.

"I think he improved some (from the Count Fleet) because of how wide he was both trips, and he was better in the gate. He gets a better grade for this race - if it was a 'B' last time, he gets an 'A' this time."

Owned by Godolphin Racing, Alpha adds $120,000 to his earnings. In five career starts the colt has three wins for $300,000.

He was the 4-5 favorite when winning last month's Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct. The colt, whose sire Bernardini won the Withers in 2006, was second to Union Rags in the Champagne Stakes last October, but only 11th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

"The plans will be to talk to Simon Crisford from Godolphin to see which way to go," said McLaughlin. "He's here in New York right now, but he could relocate, or he could run back in the Gotham in a month. We'll just have to talk about it. At least we got $120,000 in graded earnings going forward to the first Saturday in May. That's important."

Alpha returned $2.70, $2.50 and $2.10. Speightscity paid $16.20 and $5.40, and Tiger Walk paid $2.90 to show.

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