Gemologist to Florida Now, Louisville May 1
Alpha May Go Earlier
Gemologist departed Belmont Park early Sunday for an afternoon arrival at Palm Meadows. Trainer Todd Pletcher said the colt will head to Louisville May 1.
“He came out of the race really well,” said Pletcher. “The tentative schedule is for him to breeze twice between now and the Derby, then fly to Kentucky on May 1. We'll leave the option to call an audible if we so chose, but as long as we're happy with the conditions down here, that's the plan.”
Gemologist completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.96, earning a 98 Beyer Speed Figure, best of the three Derby preps on Saturday.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is thinking about his next step, but there's no doubt where he wants to be on the first Saturday in May.
“With Alpha we’re thinking about where we go, what we do, and how we get there, but we’re pointing for May 5,” McLaughlin said. “He came out of the race great. He did everything right.”
Alpha broke from the rail under Ramon Dominguez and finished a neck behind Gemologist. McLaughlin said he believes the Bernardini colt got a valuable education in the process.
“We went with no man in the gate with him,” McLaughlin said. Alpha has had multiple problems dealing with the gate in the past.
“We decided probably the day before after talking to Roy (Williamson, head starter for NYRA). Roy brought it up, which was good, and Ramon had said the first time he rode him, that he wants to fight the handler. We kind of hadn’t gotten on the same page to do it until we got the one hole. Next to number one, there’s an open gate, so the starter stood in there in case he needed some help. But he stood great, and he broke great. He almost broke on the lead. And then he checked hard in the first turn, but quickly recovered.
"Everything went great except the photo. Had we won, it would have been perfect, but we did pass many tests. Good in the gate, took dirt, ran great, belongs in the Derby. It was a real, true, great prep.
“We might go to Kentucky a little bit earlier...for the gate, because he had a bad experience there,” McLaughlin said.
--Edited NYRA release