Alpha's puts in a quick final work at Belmont

Alpha's puts in a quick final work at Belmont

Rick Samuels

Quick Final Work for Alpha, No Rider Yet

Godolphin's homebred expects to ship to Churchill Downs from New York on April 30.

Alpha  worked a brisk five furlongs in :59.54 April 28 on the Belmont Park training track for his final tune-up heading into the first Saturday in May.

With jockey Rajiv Maragh aboard and going in company with stablemate Steele Road, New York Racing Association clockers caught the son of Bernardini  in :11.69 for his opening eighth of a mile, a quarter in :23.22, and a half mile in :47.15. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:15.12.

The breeze was Alpha’s first since his second-place finish to Gemologist  in the grade I Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial on April 7. Alpha is scheduled to fly to Louisville on April 30 for an expected start in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

"That was a little bit faster than most of our horses work," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the Godolphin Racing homebred. "He’s only having this one work in between (the Wood and the Derby), so we wanted a good, solid half-out-five-eighths. He got a good, solid half-out-five-eighths in :59 and change, so it was a great work."

Added Maragh, "The horse went really well. He started off nice and comfortable, and finished up really good and galloped out strong. It seems like he’s right on target."

McLaughlin said Maragh could ride Alpha in the Derby but isn’t ready to make a commitment to any particular jockey. Ramon Dominguez has ridden Alpha in his three starts this year, but has committed to Hansen for the Kentucky Derby.

"This week I’m talking to (Godolphin racing manager) Simon Crisford in England to firm up the jockey, but that’s why we wanted him to work (with Maragh). If we entered this morning, he would be riding, but we just want to see if any other jockeys come open over the weekend and we would talk about it. He still might ride him if jockeys come open, but that’s why we haven’t named a rider. But (Maragh) liked him, and he said he galloped out great and did everything right, worked very well."

McLaughlin said the fast pace could provide an ideal set up for Alpha, but he also recognized it takes more than talent and a favorable pace to win the Derby.

"We’re happy there’s a lot of pace, and we just hope we behave in the gate," said McLaughlin. "I feel like that’s behind us. He schools all the time, he’s great. You have to have a good trip and not get behind one (that’s) stopping late."