Pepi Weis’s homebred ALBIE became the first winner from the first crop of multiple Grade 1 winner ALPHA ($1,815,667) when the long-striding chestnut colt beat six rivals by a lengthening daylight margin in a $62,000 maiden special at 1 1/16 miles over “good” Belmont inner turf on Sunday, September 23. Somewhat overlooked at double-digit odds as one of two first-time starters in the contest (the other finished last), Albie comfortably stalked the second-choice pacesetter from second place through six furlongs before swinging three-wide into the upper stretch. From there, the Alpha colt took off, accelerating his fourth individual quarter-mile split in about 23½ seconds to take command and completing his final five-sixteenths of a mile over the still-wet un-firm course in under 30 seconds. Finishing second through fourth behind him were the top three choices, including the near even-money runner-up, a son of a Kentucky-based top-five leading first-crop sire standing for $25,000 at the time of that colt’s conception. Albie won under a hand ride.
Albie is the seventh offspring bred or co-bred by Weis with her late husband, Albert Weis, from an unraced mare and is that mare’s fifth winner but her first offspring sired by Alpha and first 2-year-old colt winner. Almost exactly seven years earlier, Alpha – a son of Eclipse Champion and champion-siring Bernardini and out of a stakes-winning and multiple stakes-producing daughter of Nijinsky II – won first-out by six lengths in a Saratoga maiden special as a 2-year-old. Five weeks later, Alpha placed second among eight in Belmont’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, and within less than a year he won Grade 3, Grade 2, and Grade 1 stakes at Aqueduct and Saratoga, including the $1-million Travers. As a 4-year-old, Alpha won Saratoga’s Grade 1 Woodward Stakes, completing a rarely-achieved Travers-Woodward double that had been emulated only by North American champions and/or Hall of Fame members, including two of Alpha’s ancestors, Buckpasser and Key to the Mint – both of whom subsequently sired Eclipse Champions.
Another Travers-winning son of Bernardini, current top-ten third-crop sire Stay Thirsty, recently was represented as a sire by the winner of Saratoga’s Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds against seven rivals. Alpha raced as a homebred for Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley/Godolphin Racing, which also stands him.