Alphie's Bet, once considered a Kentucky Derby hopeful, is giving his connections new aspirations for the Triple Crown trail.
"The Belmont Stakes is one of the things that [trainer] Alexis [Barba] has on the possible agenda because we think he can go longer," co-owner Peter Johnson said.
Alphie's Bet certainly looked like a 3-year-old who might enjoy running 1 ½ miles after toying with his seven challengers in winning Saturday's $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes by 2¼ lengths at Hollywood Park. Working Capital was second and Mr Tokyo third in the 1 1/8-mile race.
Alphie's Bet broke last under jockey Mike Smith, then rallied strongly around the final turn to win in 1:51.15. The son of Tribal Rule made amends for a troubled sixth-place finish in the April 10 Santa Anita Derby.
"He's figuring it out race by race, and I think down the road they might have a really nice colt," Smith said.
Johnson still has an outside chance of having a horse run in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, Make Music For Me, who ranks 25th on the graded stakes earnings list.
Saturday was California Gold Rush day at Hollywood Park, featuring eight races worth $910,000 in purses restricted to California-breds..
One of the best stories revolved around the triumph of Camille C in the $150,000 Melair Stakes at 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Roman Dancer scored a front-running victory under jockey Rafael Bejarano by 3 ¼ lengths over Salty Fries. She cost her owner, Carlos Polanco, $4,200 at the 2009 January Barretts sale, and has earned $269,551 with three victories in 13 starts.
"I would call her a steal," Polanco said.
Camille C's trainer is Polanco's older brother, Marcelo. There's a third brother, Louis. All three came here from Chile and went to work for trainer Ron McAnally. Their parents have since passed, but Marcelo said, "I'm sure they were looking on. I'm sure they went to the [betting] window too."
U R All That I Am, under jockey Joel Rosario, won the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes at 7 ½ furlongs by a half-length over Ruffled Feathers. The race started with a scare when jockey David Flores was unseated after his horse, Witchy Meeting, hopped out of the starting gate. Flores landed hard but was not injured.