It was only a month ago that we were talking about the Travers Stakes and its lack of star power. The race itself was going to be run, regardless of the tatters the three-year-old division had become, and oh, what a race it was! Alpha came into the race as one of the few highly regarded Derby contenders still racing and the Kiaran McLaughlin’s colt didn’t disappoint as he came away with the victory. But a funny thing happened on the way to the finish line, as a long shot, trained by Ken McPeek, hit the finish line at the same time Alpha did. Golden Ticket ran a great race and there was no possible way the contest could have ended any close than it was. Both horses were winners that day and now they move on to the next challenge, as both have their eyes set on the Breeders Cup.
This weekend at Philadelphia Park, the two will square off again in the $1 million, Grade II Pennsylvania Derby. This time, Golden Ticket will not be sneaking up on the field and he will likely be among the favorites, along with Alpha and Steve Asmussen’s Macho Macho. In his last effort Macho Macho took the West Virginia Derby, finishing ahead of Bourbon Courage, who just won the Super Derby in Louisiana. Nick Zito will run Casual Trick, a colt that hasn’t raced since finishing eighth in the Wood Memorial back in April. There are a couple of other entries of note as well in Graham Motion’s Stephanoatsee and the Phil Gleave’s trained Csaba. Stephanoastee won an allowance race at Del Mar last month and had previously finished second in the Count Fleet Stakes, and Csaba ran second in last month’s National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes.
A win in the Pennsylvania Derby will likely make Alpha the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and would give him five solid wins (4 in graded stakes races) this year, putting him squarely in the middle of the chase for three-year-old of the year.
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