Alpha Bettor

Alpha Bettor

Michael Burns

Alpha Bettor Tries for Repeat Win in Eclipse

Canada's champion older horse last year faces Frac Daddy in tough renewal June 1.

Alpha Bettor, the Sovereign Award winner as Canada's champion older horse of 2013, defends his title in the $200,000 Eclipse Stakes (Can-II) against eight rivals June 1 on the Woodbine Polytrack.

Among the opponents for Bulldog Racing's 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Alphabet Soup are recent graded stakes winners Frac Daddy  and Really Sharp. The 1 1/16-mile Eclipse is race 8 on the Sunday card with a 4:39 p.m. scheduled post.

Alpha Bettor won last year's Eclipse at 13-1 odds by a neck over Delegation, with James Street a head father back in third in a terrific finish. It was the first of three graded wins Alpha Bettor picked up in Canada during 2013 for trainer Dan Vella, followed by the Seagram Cup (Can-III) and the Autumn Stakes (Can-II).

All but one of Alpha Bettor's 27 races have been at Woodbine, and all nine of the chestnut's career victories were taken on the Polytrack. He has banked $714,864 in his career.

Alpha Bettor, who will race without blinkers Sunday, began the season with a front-running allowance win May 10 at Woodbine with regular rider Justin Stein. He is back aboard the 122-pound highweight, and they break from the inside post.

Frac Daddy makes his Woodbine debut for Magic City Thoroughbred Partners and trainer Ken McPeek. Last year's runner-up in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) showed a liking for Polytrack when he romped by nearly five lengths in the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland April 19. The 4-year-old Scat Daddy colt returned three weeks later to finish fourth in the 1 3/8-mile Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) on a good Belmont Park inner turf course May 11. Luis Contreras picks up the mount from post 5.

Richard and Nancy Kaster's homebred Really Sharp scored a 28-1 upset in Woodbine's Vigil Stakes (Can-III) May 11, winning by three-quarters of a length after vying throughout on the front end. Trained by Ian Black, the 4-year-old Sharp Humor colt has had five starts this season with a second and two thirds in addition to his Vigil win. He was third by neck in the Jacques Cartier to open his Woodbine campaign April 13. Steve Bahen retains the mount.

His Race to Win, a homebred for Sam-Son Farms, won last year's Ontario Derby (Can-III) by 2 1/4 lengths and kicked off his 4-year-old campaign April 16 with an allowance victory on the turf at Keeneland. Trained by Malcolm Pierce, the son of Stormy Atlantic  is a three-time winner over Woodbine's Polytrack. Eurico Rosa Da Silva has the call.

Are You Kidding Me has not been out since recording a four-length tally in the Kent Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Delaware Park turf last September. Trainer Roger Attfield retained Rajiv Maragh to ride the 4-year-old son of Run Away and Hide .

Peyton and Stealcase, a pair of hard-trying 5-year-olds, were second and third behind Alpha Bettor in the May 10 allowance over the track. Awesome Overture ran through his allowance conditions with three consecutive wins to begin his career last year but has lost his past seven starts. Hampstead Heath looks to regain his form after a pair of eighth-place finishes to begin the year.

$200,000 Eclipse Stakes (Can-II, Race 8, 4:39 p.m.), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Alpha Bettor (KY), J Stein, 122, D J Vella
2. Stealcase (KY), P Husbands, 116, M E Casse
3. Are You Kidding Me (KY), R Maragh, 120, R L Attfield
4. Peyton (ON), J M Campbell, 116, M J Doyle
5. Frac Daddy (KY), L Contreras, 120, K G McPeek
6. Really Sharp (KY), S R Bahen, 120, I Black
7. His Race to Win (ON), E R Da Silva, 120, M Pierce
8. Awesome Overture (ON), O Moreno, 116, P Attard
9. Hampstead Heath (ON), E Wilson, 116, B A Lynch
Blinkers Off: Alpha Bettor