Godolphin Racing’s Alpha put himself back into the early 2012 Kentucky Derby contender conversation with an easy and impressive win on Saturday in the $150,000 Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct. The 3-yr-old debut for the Kiaran McLaughlin trained colt was a huge rebound after his sophomore season ended with a disappointing 11th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Sent off as the 4-5 favorite, Jockey Ramon Dominguez placed Alpha just off the leaders in third before making his move at the top of the lane. After a short-lived duel with pace setter II Villano, Alpha moved by comfortably to score a 2 ½ victory, his first ever graded stakes win. Racing on Lasix for the first time, he covered 1 Mile and 70 yards in 1:42.83 over the Fast inner track at Aqueduct behind slow fractions of 24.48, 49.06, 1:13.91.
The Son of Bernadini looked like the horse that many expected to see in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile where he entered after finishing 2nd to the eventual winner Union Rags in the G1 Champagne last October. Besides an easy win against a viable field of 7, his stretch run and gallop out after the wire is what impressed me the most. Alpha looked very much like a horse that is bred for distance and he looked very strong down the stretch, the place where the Triple Crown champions win. Expect Alpha to remain on the New York circuit where he will likely return for the Withers Stakes on Feb. 4th before moving on to the Wood Memorial on 4/7.
Raced since it’s inauguration in 1975 only one Count Fleet Stakes winner has ever gone on to win the Kentucky Derby – Smarty Jones in 2004. Of course it’s premature but Alpha has put himself in a nice position to attempt to become the second Count Fleet winner to wear the Roses on the first Saturday in May.
- Alpha $3.60 $2.60 $2.10
- Stephanoatsee $4.40 $2.90
- II Villano $3.00
$2 Exacta $12.00 $2 Trifecta $36.20 $2 Superfecta $127.40
At Santa Anita it was a dismissed colt that surged by the overwhelming 1-2 favorite in the final strides of the G3 Sham Stakes. Out of Bounds, a big chestnut colt by Discreet Cat, introduced himself to the West Coast Road to the Derby by taking down the undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ Secret Circle in his Graded Stakes debut.
At the top of the lane it appeared to be a two-horse race between pace setter Longview Drive and Secret Circle. Even behind solid race fractions of: 22.66, :45.89, 1:09.78 a late stretch run was setting up to be a very large order. But at 10-1, Out of Bounds was up for it as he methodically inched closer and closer before eventually passing the favorite to win by ½ length in 1:34.56 – a very solid 1 Mile time over a fast Santa Anita track. With Garret Gomez aboard for the very first time a lot of credit goes to him for sticking with his young colt all the way through the stretch.
Owned by Darley Stable and trained by Eoin Harty, Out of Bounds got off to a late start his sophomore year. It wasn’t until Oct 22nd that the big chestnut made his first start, a 6F MSW at Santa Anita. After a 4th place finish, he returned in early December at Hollywood Park to gain his first ever win at 7 Furlongs. The Sham Stakes win says a lot about Out of Bounds and his upcoming 3-yr-old season. It only implies that his road to the derby may have just begun. Eoin Harty hasn’t given any indication as to where or when we will see Out of Bounds race next but either of the two remaining Santa Anita Derby preps (Robert B. Lewis & San Felipe) should be considered a likely answer.
As for the other colt that had yet to go two turns this was also a very good race for Secret Circle. He was beat by the more deserving horse but he also didn’t show any concerns of handling the distance. He didn’t shut down in the stretch and raced gamely all the way to and through the wire. In fact, I think he only proved that he is still a 2012 Derby Contender. Expect Bob Baffert to send Secret Circle out again at Santa Anita in any of the upcoming derby preps that will be covering distances between 7f to 1 1/16.
- Out of Bounds $22.60 $5.80 $4.40
- Secret Circle $2.80 $2.10
- Longview Drive $4.00
$2 Exacta $42.40 $2 Trifecta $182.80 $2 Superfecta $475.20
Congratulations to the winners and their connections. It was an exciting start on 2012 Kentucky Derby Trail and we look forward to seeing you down the road.
Written by: Little Brink