“We do think about the future with Alpha, and hope he’s a Derby-type horse,” said McLaughlin in an Aqueduct Racetrack news release. “He’s a nice horse.”
However, his fractious behavior in the starting gate of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) indicates he may have some emotional conformation issues and it gave me cause to take a wait and see approach.
I really like the pedigree of Alpha but I’ve seen several horses with nice pedigrees fail to live up to their breeding. If Alpha lives up to his breeding, he should win the Count Fleet with ease.
A bullet work out on January 2 indicates that Alpha could be ready to run a good race. Only time will tell.
Stephanoatsee (6-1) cuts back in distance from his last outing in the 9-furlong Remsen Stakes (G2) where he finished seventh but was only beaten by 4¼-lengths. Stephanoatsee is a half-brother to Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Shackleford and the cutback should make him more competitive as he previously has a second and first-place finish in two 8-furlong races at Laurel Park.
His Brisnet Speed Figures for his two races at Laurel Park make him competitive with this group and three nice work outs since his last race, including a bullet work on December 24, could have him ready to run a good race.
Speightscity won his last race traveling the same route of ground at Aqueduct and a bullet work out on December 29 may also have him primed for a good race.
Shkspeare Shaliyah was most likely outclassed in his last race where he finished ninth in the 8-furlong Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Stakes (G1). But he has a third-place finish and two wins at 8½-furlongs, including the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes, and he should be closing fast at the end to hit the board or maybe win at a nice price.