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Jan 20, 2004

Alpha headlines field for Travers


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Jim Dandy Stakes winner Alpha goes for his second Saratoga stakes win Saturday in the $1 million Travers Stakes. The 1 1/4 mile "Mid-Summer Derby" has attracted a field of 11 three-year-olds.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Alpha is coming off a front running victory in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on July 28 and is the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday. The colt will start the Travers from post six with regular rider Ramon Dominguez.

Owned by Godolphin Racing, Alpha has banked $860,000 with four wins in eight career starts. He won his first start last year at Saratoga and followed with a second in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. The colt finished a disappointing 11th behind Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Alpha posted victories early this year in the Count Fleet and Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. He finished a neck back in second to Gemologist in the Wood Memorial on April 7. The colt again disappointed by finishing 12th to I'll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby.

The 4-1 second choice in the field is Nonios, second in the Haskell Invitational. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Nonios will be ridden for the first time by John Velazquez from post 10.

"We have a colt we think is doing well," noted the Hall of Fame trainer. "We try not to bring our horses anywhere that we don't think they have a good chance, and I don't think we're being frivolous or foolish with him."

Nonios finished second to Paynter in the Haskell by 3 3/4 lengths. Unraced in 2011, the colt won the Affirmed at Hollywood Park on June 3 and was second in the July 4 Swaps Stakes.

Owned by Green B. Smith Jr., Nonios has won three of six starts for $329,000.

Jim Dandy runner-up Neck 'n Neck has drawn post eight with Leandro Goncalves again riding and is the 9-2 third pick. The colt, trained by Ian Wilkes, finished two lengths behind Alpha last month while two lengths ahead of Liaison.

"He can be wherever he wants, and that's the good thing," said Wilkes. "We have a smart rider in Leandro (Goncalves) who knows the horse and he understands him, and that's good."

Neck 'n Neck posted his only stakes victory on June 16 in Churchill Downs' Matt Winn after winning an allowance race in May. Owned by A. Stevens Miles Jr., the colt was a close fifth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in February and fourth behind Union Rags in Gulfstream's Fountain of Youth. With Edgar Prado riding, Neck 'n Neck was fifth in the Florida Derby.

In 11 career starts, Neck 'n Neck has three wins for $316,772.

Here is the complete Travers field in post position order: Speightscity, Irad Ortiz Jr., 30-1; Five Sixteen, Rosie Napravnik, 15-1; Golden Ticket, David Cohen, 20-1; Stealcase, Shaun Brigmohan, 15-1; Street Life, Jose Lezcano, 5-1; Alpha, Ramon Dominguez, 5-2; Atigun, Mike Smith, 12-1; Neck 'n Neck, Leandro Goncalves, 9-2; Liaison, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Nonios, John Velazquez, 4-1 and Fast Falcon, Junior Alvarado, 20-1.

Post-time for the "Mid-Summer Derby" will be approximately 5:45 p.m. (ET).

Missing from the race will be Eclipse Award winner Hansen. The colt has a leg injury that forced his withdrawal from the Travers.

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