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Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Preakness winner Afleet Alex returns to track

By Richard Rosenblatt
Associated Press

No worries, Afleet Alex is just fine and ready for the Belmont Stakes.

Afleet Alex went for a two-mile jog around Pimlico Race Course on Wednesday morning, his first visit to the track since winning the Preakness Stakes after a frightening collision with Scrappy T.

"Everything is good," trainer Tim Ritchey said. "His legs are cold and tight, and he's fine. He just has a tiny little nick behind a leg. That's it, amazing as it may seem."
Alex 'spreaks' to fans

Looking for the lowdown on what really happened in Afleet Alex's remarkable victory in the Preakness Stakes?

Click on, and read it right from the horse's mouth.

In words written by a publicist after consulting with trainer Tim Ritchey, Afleet Alex offered his own view of what happened when he -- and jockey Jeremy Rose -- collided with Scrappy T at the top of the stretch:

"I was determined to win, the crowd was screaming my name, Jeremy guided me through," Alex 'says.' "I shut my eyes at one point and just let Jeremy take me. We were coming around the turn, Jeremy told me to go (I love that part) and off I went. But then the horse in front of me came over, there was nothing we could do.

"I heard Jeremy yell, I was falling ... No ... I can't fall, I can't let Jeremy fall, I can't let anyone down ... not this time! Hold on Jeremy! I could feel Jeremy clinging to my mane, I have to get up! Jeremy pulled and I pushed ... we did it! Get out of my way, I'm taking Jeremy home ... no one will stop me this time!"

The message is one of several that have been posted during Afleet Alex's racing career.

"Everybody seems to enjoy it," Ritchey said. "Little kids seem to love it, and we're trying to get some young fans."

- Associated Press

Ritchey said Afleet Alex walked for three days -- one more than usual after a race -- before he was sent to the track. "I wanted to give him an extra day. He'll go out once, maybe twice, tomorrow (Thursday).

"He was a touch stiff the first mile which was to be expected," Ritchey said. "But by the time he was jogging the second mile his ears were up and he was jogging forward and striding right out. I was ecstatic that he came out of the race as well as he has."

Travel plans called for Afleet Alex to be shipped Saturday to Belmont Park, where the 3-year-old colt will prepare for the Belmont on June 11. Ritchey said Afleet Alex also would go to the track Friday and Saturday before leaving for New York.

Afleet Alex, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby behind Giacomo, beat Scrappy T by 4 3/4 lengths in Saturday's Preakness. But not before recovering from what could have been a disastrous spill.

Coming into the final turn, jockey Jeremy Rose was about to guide Afleet Alex into the lead but Scrappy T veered into his path in response to a left-handed whip from jockey Ramon Dominguez. The horses clipped heels, Afleet Alex's nose came within inches of touching the ground but the colt incredibly regained his balance and won the race.

"It was absolutely amazing," Ritchey said. "I have never seen anything like it in horse racing where the horse didn't go down or finished second, third, fourth, fifth or even pull up."

Other Belmont probables include Giacomo, Scrappy T, Buzzards Bay, Andromeda's Hero, Pinpoint, Shamoan and Southern Africa.

Several other starters could come out of Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont.

The last time the Derby and Preakness winners met in the Belmont was 2001, with Preakness winner Point Given cruising to a 12 1/4-length victory (Derby winner Monarchos was third).

Afleet Alex won the Arkansas Derby by a record eight lengths three weeks before the Kentucky Derby.

Watch the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11 at 5 p.m. ET on NBC