Kiaran McLaughlin's horse Alpha overcame a sloppy track and 12-1 odds to win the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga Springs Race Course in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. on Saturday. The long shot nipped Flat Out by a nose in the second photo finish at Saratoga in as many weeks.
A week ago, Will Take Charge captured a similar win at the Travers Stakes.
Perhaps the conditions curtailed favorites such as Paynter and Successful Dan, or maybe Alpha was just better than expected. In any case, jockey John Velazquez rode the horse to victory in the Breeder's Cup Classic tune-up worth $750,000.
Here's a look at the order of finish and the payout.
Blinkers On, Game On
After racing with the blinkers off for a stretch before the Woodward, McLaughlin elected to put them back on Alpha for Saturday's race, per HRTV.com. It was a good thing he did. A horse that had shown the tendency to look around when engaged in a duel might have reverted to that on Sunday considering the pressure applied by Flat Out.
With tunnel vision in full effect, Alpha held on for the win.
What Might Have Been
Mucho Macho Man had garnered high expectations heading into the race, but his trainer scratched him because of the less-than-ideal conditions, per HRTV. Kathy Ritvo thought it better to hold her horse out and save him for a faster track.
Because Alpha established himself as the pacesetter in the race, Mucho Macho Man's sprinting prowess could have made things even more interesting.
Looking Ahead to the Breeder's Cup Classic
Per the race's official website, Paynter, Mucho Macho Man and Successful Dan are all listed as contenders for the race on Nov. 2 in Los Angeles. It will be interesting to see how Paynter's disappointing finish and Mucho Macho Man's absence in the Woodward Stakes affects their performance.
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