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Aug 31, 2012

Alpha and Golden Ticket dead heat in Travers


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Post-time favorite Alpha and longshot Golden Ticket finished in a dead heat in Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. It's the second dead heat in the 143 year history of the 1 1/4 mile "Mid-Summer Derby."

Alpha, winner of the Jim Dandy Stakes, went off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 11 3-year-olds. Golden Ticket was 33-1.

Setting the pace was Speightscity, who broke from the inside post. Racing close behind were Stealcase, Alpha and Golden Ticket. The top four runners kept their positions for most of race.

Around the turn for home Speightscity still had a short lead over Stealcase, Alpha and Golden Ticket. At the top of the stretch Golden Ticket, ridden by David Cohen, had taken a length lead over Alpha with Ramon Dominguez riding.

Down the stretch Golden Ticket dug in along the rail as Alpha cut into the longshot's advantage. Trained by Ken McPeek, Golden Ticket tried to hold off the favorite, but Alpha was able to catch the longshot as the two hit the wire together.

It was the first dead heat in the Travers since 1874 when Attila and Acrobat tied for first. Attila won the run-off.

Making a run from last to third was Fast Falcon who was followed by Atigun, Nonios, Neck 'n Neck, Stealcase, Speightscity, Liaison, Five Sixteen and Street Life.

The time for the "Mid-Summer Derby" was 2:02.74 on a fast track.

The victory for both colts was worth $400,000 apiece.

The Travers was just the second career win for Golden Ticket who is owned by Magic City Thoroughbred Partners. The colt was making his 10th start, which includes four seconds. Golden Ticket has banked $536,035.

"We entered him in an allowance race the week before last and they had only two entries," said McPeek who also trains Atigun, "and then we had him geared up for the Bernardini and it only had three, so that race died on the vine. So we were kind of stuck. We've got a horse sitting on tilt, and we kind of feel like there's a chance for him."

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Alpha posted his fifth win in nine career starts. The colt, owned by Godolphin Racing, went over the $1 million mark with the victory and has earnings of $1,260,000.

"At the wire, it was too close to call. I said, 'We'll take a dead heat.' It was a great race. We thought he would run great, and he did. Kenny's horse ran very well also," McLaughlin said.

Alpha won his first start last year at Saratoga and followed with a second in the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. The colt finished 11th behind Hansen in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Alpha posted victories earlier this year in the Count Fleet and Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. He finished a neck back in second to Gemologist in the Wood Memorial, but was 12th to I'll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby.

Golden Ticket returned $26.80, $26.40 and $11.80. Alpha paid $4.10, $5.10 and $3.90, and Fast Falcon paid $13.60 to show.

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