• Alpha breezes, remains possible for Cigar Mile; Cairo Prince works for G2 Remsen
• Saratoga Snacks exits work in good order, Cigar Mile could be next
With exercise rider Jada Schlenk aboard, the 5-year-old mare went out onto Belmont Park's training track shortly after the renovation break at 7:45 a.m. As a light rain fell, Groupie Doll sailed through a half-mile in 48.61, her first timed workout since scoring her second straight victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
The move was the 15th-fastest of 79 at the distance.
"She breezed really well," said trainer William "Buff" Bradley of Groupie Doll, who will be making her first start for new owner Mandy Pope. "She went the first eighth in :12 2/5, finished up really well and galloped out strong, too, in 1:01 3/5. Jada said 'perfect' which is pretty good for me. She wasn't even breathing hard when she got back."
Groupie Doll, second by a nose to Stay Thirsty in last year's Cigar Mile, will be competing for a $1 million gross purse in the Cigar Mile by virtue of a special purse incentive provided by The New York Racing Association, Inc. for past Breeders' Cup winners.
"She'll most likely breeze another half-mile next Sunday, and that will be it," said Bradley.
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Godolphin Racing's Alpha remains under consideration for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile after breezing four furlongs on the Belmont training track Saturday in what was his first workout since his eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on November 1 at Santa Anita.
With exercise rider Carlos Rosillo aboard, Alpha worked inside of Long River and finished about a head behind his workmate, completing the distance in 48.14 seconds.
"He breezed very well; we're happy with the breeze," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He galloped out well, and all systems are 'go' for the Cigar Mile."
With Groupie Doll and Goldencents part of the provisional Cigar Mile field, McLaughlin said he will track Alpha's progress before he fully commits the 4-year-old to the race.
"We're going to keep our options open because [the race] is coming up tough, but we're pointing that way," said McLaughlin. "We're happy with him, he likes New York, he doesn't ship well, so we're pointing to the Cigar Mile, even though it's coming up tough."
Alpha, who won Saratoga Race Course's 2012 Grade 1 Travers (via dead heat) and the 2013 Grade 1 Woodward, is 2-1-0 from three starts at Aqueduct, winning the Count Fleet and Grade 3 Withers on the inner track and finishing second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on the main track in 2012.
Also on the worktab for McLaughlin was Grade 2 Nashua winner Cairo Prince, who is preparing for a start in the Grade 2 Remsen, also on November 30. The 2-year-old covered four furlongs in 48.89 seconds.
"He worked well, also in company," said McLaughlin, who trains Cairo Prince for Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke, and Craig W. Robertson III. "He looked great doing it with [workmate] Truth Is, and we're pointing for the Remsen."
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Trainer Gary Sciacca reported this morning that Empire Classic winner Saratoga Snacks emerged from Friday's workout in good order and remains possible for the Cigar Mile, which would be his first graded stakes start.
"He's doing well," said Sciacca of the New York-bred, who breezed a half-mile in 48.22, second-fastest of 51 works at the distance on the training track. "I was happy with the way he did it. The race is coming up really tough, so we'll have to discuss it further before we make a decision."
Owned by NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, Saratoga Snacks is 2-0-1 from three starts this year, including a victory in the Shy Groom overnight stakes at Belmont and a third in the John Morrissey at Saratoga Race Course. Overall, he is 7-1-2 from 10 starts with earnings of $464,200.
In addition to Groupie Doll and Saratoga Snacks, listed as probable for the Cigar Mile by NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes are Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents; Grade 1 Foxwoods King's Bishop hero Capo Bastone; Verrazano, winner in 2012 of the Big A's Grade 1 Wood Memorial; Clearly Now, who took the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap last time out, and multiple graded stakes winner Forty Tales, most recently second in the Bold Ruler.