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Alpha Returns a Winner in Jim Dandy Stakes

Alpha returned from a 12-week layoff to wire the field in Saturday’s $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga.

Ridden by Ramon Dominguez, Alpha defeated Neck ‘n Neck after leading gate to wire over a sloppy, sealed main track.

“He was superb all the way around there,” said Dominguez. “Turning for home when I shook him up, he just took off for me. It’s an indication he’ll handle farther, and I love the way he was handling himself prior to and after the race.”

Alpha, who carries the colors of Godolphin Racing, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.47.

The victory was Alpha’s first since he opened his 3-year-old campaign with triumphs in the Count Fleet and Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct Racetrack. Beaten a neck by Gemologist in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial prior to a 12th-place finish in the Derby, Alpha skipped the Preakness and was being pointed to the June 9 Belmont Stakes, only to be declared from the race after spiking a fever.

“We had a little hiccup before the Belmont, spiked a temperature, and we agreed to stop,” said Godolphin representative Jimmy Bell. “We talked to [racing manager] Simon Crisford and he said, ‘You know what, don’t be pushing this. Give him the time off. Go to Saratoga and let’s see if we can do something in the Jim Dandy that will give us a reason to look forward to the Travers.’ We followed instructions well, and so did the horse.”

Alpha, who has earned $860,000, will now head into the 1 ¼-mile Travers Stakes (G1) as one of the favorites. Since the Jim Dandy was first run in 1960, nine horses have completed the Jim Dandy-Travers double, including Alpha’s sire, Bernardini, who won both races in 2006. Stay Thirsty, another son of Bernardini, completed the double last year.

“This was the plan all the time, to run in this and back in the Travers,” said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “Hopefully, everything goes well for the next four weeks.”

Joining him in the “Mid-Summer Derby” likely will be runner-up Neck ‘n Neck and third-place finisher Liaison, who closed from seventh. Following him under the wire were Teeth of the Dog, My Adonis, Atigun, Fast Falcon, and Prospective.

–NYRA Press contributed to this report.

Alpha/NYRA photo by Adam Mooshian