Posts Tagged ‘Withers Stakes 2012’

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Alpha’s Withers

The first New York graded route on the road to Kentucky Derby 2012 was run at Aqueduct on Saturday and overwhelming favorite Alpha did not disappoint in a facile G3 Withers tally.

G3 Withers (2-4-12): 90 BSF (Alpha)

Alpha was my original number one Derby contender when I posted my first blog about the current sophomore class last September and he is on the upswing for Godolphin and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Alpha horse

Alpha is on the upswing for Godolphin - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha began his career with a facile extended sprint win at Saratoga last summer before rallying for the place behind Union Rags in the G1 Champagne. He lost his top ranking on my list after coming apart at the gate and finishing up the track in the G1 BC Juvenile but he always remained in my top ten.

I gave the Count Fleet hero a C+ grade for his win on Jan 7 and thought he was more professional in the Withers. He behaved in the gate, sat a wide stalking trip from the outside post, and was hand urged while clearly best under Ramon Dominguez on Feb 4.

Alpha has all of the tools to make a splash on the first Saturday in May. He is bred top and bottom (Bernardini-Nijinsky II) to improve as distances increase and his sharp conditioner has Kentucky Derby experience. Godolphin wants to win the Derby and they are going about it the right way this time after buying young talent and unsuccessfully shipping to/from Dubai in the past.

The promising son of Bernardini is making nice progress on the Beyer scale, going from an 85 in the Count Fleet to a 90 in the Withers. I love his tactical speed and top notch jockey Ramon Dominguez rides him well. He needs to run faster to be considered a serious Derby player but he is only getting warmed up at a mile and a sixteenth and is clearly moving in the right direction.

There was not much depth in the Withers. Outsider Speightscity completed the exacta at 44-1.Rallying show finisher Tiger Walk has potential for Sagamore Farm. He was making his first start of the year and handles turf/dirt.

Withers Stakes Grade: B-

Withers Stakes 2012 Preview: Alpha Looms Large

The road to Kentucky Derby 2012 continues at Aqueduct Racetrack on Saturday with the G3 Withers Stakes and even money favorite Alpha drew the outside post against six rivals.

I have always been fond of #7 Alpha (1-1). He was my top ranked Derby contender when I started tracking the current sophomores last September. Kiaran McLaughlin’s exciting son of Bernardini was a sharp winner right out of the box in his extended sprint bow at the Spa last summer and came right back to land the place behind highly regarded colt Union Rags in the G1 Champagne.

Alpha

Alpha seeks graded glory in Withers - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Alpha came unglued at the gate in the G1 BC Juvenile and ended up a disappointing 11th after stalking the pace. He resumed training in Florida during the month of December before returning to the Big Apple to impressively snare his 3-year-old debut in the Count Fleet Stakes on Jan 7.

Once again, Alpha had some gate issues in the Count Fleet and has been successfully schooling at the Big A ever since. He fired a best of 14 Belmont training track bullet for this engagement on Jan 30 and looms large at low odds.

#1 Hakama (5-1) is the one to catch from the rail and might be dangerous if the inner dirt track is favoring speed. The Michael Trombetta runner exits back-to-back route wire jobs including a local maiden win Dec 10.

Sagamore Farm runner #6 Tiger Walk (6-1) is firing bullets for his first start of the season. He ended his juvenile campaign with back-to-back wins on turf and dirt at Laurel Park and should offer value at 6-1. He’s the wildcard.

#2 Speightscity (20-1) was dusted by Alpha in the Count Fleet but he was bumped at the start and raced wide from an outer post that day. He lands a better post and can grab a piece of this with better racing luck.

#4 King Kid (4-1) was sharp in his extended sprint bow and finished a solid 3rd in the Gulfstream Park Derby last time. He has upside with only two races under his belt. His pedigree screams turf (Lemon Drop Kid-Royal Academy).

#3 Swag Daddy (10-1) owns running style versatility and captured his last two inner dirt routes against NY-breds. He faces open company for the first time and shows an improving numbers pattern.

Pace factor #5 How Do I Win (10-1) faded to 4th after tracking the leader in the Count Fleet and it might be deja vu all over again with early runner Hakama breaking from the rail.

The Plays:

$4 Exacta 7-2

$1 Trifecta 7/1-6/ALL ($10)

$1 Trifecta 7/ALL/1-6 ($10)

$1 Trifecta 1-6/7/ALL ($10)

$1 Trifecta 1-6-7/1-6-7/2 ($6)

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