x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Dead heat in Travers means Alpha is now firm for Breeders

Kiaran McLaughlin will now point Alpha to the Breeders Cup Classic and Questing to the Ladies Classic for Godolphin, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Alpha, left, with Ramon A Dominguez aboard, and Golden Ticket, right, with jockey David Cohen up finishing in a Dead Heat for Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse.
Alpha, left, with Ramon A Dominguez aboard, and Golden Ticket, right, with jockey David Cohen up finishing in a Dead Heat for Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse.

Kiaran McLaughlin had never won the $1 million (Dh3.67m) Travers Stakes before Saturday night but even then he had to share it after Godolphin's Alpha crossed the winning line at Saratoga Racecourse in unison with Golden Ticket.

Although there had been a dead heat in the Grade 1 event in 1874, back then they used to have a run-off which neither McLaughlin nor his childhood friend and fellow trainer Kenny McPeek were keen to see occur.

"It's a dead heat but it goes in the 'W' column," the Godolphin handler said.

"It doesn't happen very often in a Grade 1, $1 million race, but we're all happy it happened today. At the wire, it was too close to call but we'll take a dead heat."

In winning the 10-furlong race Alpha created his own little slice of history by emulating his sire Bernardini, who had scored in the Travers having picked up the Jim Dandy Stakes in 2006.

Like Bernardini, Alpha will now be trained with the Breeders' Cup Classic, staged this year at Santa Anita on the first Saturday in November, firmly in mind.

Bernardini used the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park as his prep race before getting run down in the Classic by McLaughlin's Invasor at Churchill Downs but Alpha will take a different route.

"I have talked to Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, and Alpha is likely to race next in the $1m Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on September 22 and then the Breeders' Cup."

Alpha's maiden Grade 1 success augments Questing's victory last Saturday in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes and the Godolphin filly is also likely to be at Parx next month where she is being aimed at the $1m Cotillion. The Cotillion is restricted to fillies and with Alpha now in the frame for the Breeders' Cup Classic it is almost certain that Questing will contest the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

With Godolphin's Willing Foe also winning the Ebor Handicap at York Racecourse in England on Saturday it has been quite a weekend for the organisation's founder, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE. The Ruler of Dubai became the new world endurance champion on the same day by winning in the FEI World Endurance Championships in England.

It was not all good news for the Al Maktoum family, however, as Newfangled, owned by Princess Haya, failed to recover from her pelvic injury sustained in the Lowther Stakes at York on Thursday and had to be put down.

Newfangled was among the favourites to win next season's English 1000 Guineas and was described by her trainer Jon Gosden as the fastest juvenile he had ever trained.

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