Afleet Alex showed tremendous athleticism in winning the 205 Preakness Stakes.
Bought for $75,000 at auction early in his 2-year-old year, Afleet Alex would prove in the next two seasons that his purchase price was a bargain.
The colt impressively won his maiden in June 2004 by 11 ¼ lengths before reeling off three more wins that summer, including the Sanford Stakes and Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes. He suffered his first defeat in the Champagne Stakes, losing to Proud Accolade by a half-length. He ended his season with a three-quarter-length defeat to Wilko but was named as a finalist for the 2-year-old male Eclipse Award for 2004.
The following year, Afleet Alex faced the tough challenge of carrying his 2-year-old form into his 3-year-old season. All seemed to be right on schedule when he won the Mountain Valley Stakes by 2 ¾ lengths early in the year. But the colt had everything going against him in the Grade 3 Rebel Stakes. Afleet Alex had a new jockey for the first time in his career and finished last in the race. However, a legitimate excuse was quickly found for his poor performance when a veterinarian looked him over after the race and discovered a lung infection.
After a round of antibiotics, Afleet Alex was back to himself for the Arkansas Derby. His regular jockey, Jeremy Rose, was back aboard and the two raced about four lengths behind Batson Challenge until the far turn. But when Rose asked Afleet Alex to go, there was no holding him back as he easily pulled away to win by eight lengths in a dominant performance that Oaklawn Park track announcer Terry Wallace called “one of the most impressive Arkansas Derby wins ever.”
As Afleet Alex headed to the Kentucky Derby, it hit mainstream media that Afleet Alex had been running for a charity called Alex’s Lemonade Stand, raising funds for the fight against childhood cancer. The colt had already earned the charity thousands of dollars and, when it was known that part of his earnings from an on-the-board Derby finish would go to the charity, he became the 2005 Kentucky Derby fan favorite.
After going off as the bettors' second choice, Afleet Alex had the lead in the stretch and it looked like he would be the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner if he could hold off Closing Argument. But the real threat was the fast-closing Giacomo, who came up on Afleet Alex’s outside to win the race. Closing Argument, who was on the rail, edged Afleet Alex for second with all three horses finishing within a length of each other.
AFLEET ALEX WON THE PREAKNESS IN OUTSTANDING FASHION
Photos by Horsephotos.com
While the loss was disappointing, Afleet Alex’s connections decided to continue on the Triple Crown trail and headed to Maryland for the Preakness Stakes. There, Afleet Alex showed a national audience an amazing display of athleticism and determination.
Afleet Alex made his move coming around the far turn in the Preakness but as he went to pass Scrappy T on the outside, the other horse spooked when hit with the whip. Scrappy T ducked out badly in front of Afleet Alex, who clipped heels with Scrappy T. Afleet Alex nearly went to his knees, but quickly recovered with jockey Rose hanging on by grabbing the colt’s mane. The event happened in a matter of few seconds and Afleet Alex showed how even minded he was when he regained his footing and went on to pull away from Scrappy T. He won by 4 ¾ lengths with Scrappy T finishing second, five lengths clear of Giacomo.
"I thought for sure we were going down. The thought process was I was going to get run over. The instinct was just to hang on and try to get my balance back,” Rose told the Blood-Horse after the race. “He picked himself right up, and after that I knew he had it won."
“He's an amazing horse. I've never seen a horse stumble like that and then win a race like this.”
While it was the first time in four years that there was no Triple Crown on the line, fans were still in for a treat when both the Kentucky Derby winner and the Preakness Stakes winner both headed to Belmont.
Afleet Alex was eighth after a mile but a quarter mile later was in second, just a head behind the Derby winner. It was obvious in the stretch that there would be no catching Afleet Alex that day as he pulled away to win by seven lengths as the 1.15-to-1 favorite.
AFLEET ALEX WAS UNSTOPPABLE IN THE BELMONT
Afleet Alex was scheduled for a small break after the grind of the Triple Crown season but an injury discovered in July gave him more time off than expected. When the colt was attempting to return to the races that fall, another injury forced him into retirement.
“We're all very disappointed and frustrated,” owner Cash is King’s Managing Partner Chuck Zacney told Blood-Horse. "We were really looking forward to racing Alex next year and to showing just how great a horse he was. I don't think horse racing fans saw the best of Alex. They saw a lot of very good races, but the way he was growing and maturing, I really feel the best was yet to come."
The colt ended his career with an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male. He finished with eight wins in 12 career starts for $2,765,800 in earnings. Of his eight victories, six were in stakes competition with three Grade 1 victories.
Afleet Alex started his stud career at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky., the following year and got off to a fast start with Puerto Rican champion Cuqui’s Love, Grade 1 Travers Stakes winner Afleet Express, and Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Afleet Again among the stakes winners in his first crop.
AFLEET ALEX IN THE SNOW AT GAINESWAY
His following years at stud saw horses such as multiple Grade 3 winner Bizzy Caroline, Grade 2 winner Iotapa and Dancing Afleet, and Puerto Rican stakes winner Advier hit the track.
A very laid back stallion, Afleet Alex still gets attention from fans, especially in Pennsylvania and Maryland. His popularity with breeders hasn't wavered through the years and Gainesway is eagerly awaiting the debuts of his 2014 2-year-olds in addition to watching his current runners progress.
"He has a big crop of 2 year olds this year, which will hopefully gain great results on the track for Afleet Alex," said Gainesway's Director of Sales Michael Hernon. "
He is a very steady stallion, and is having a good year so far in 2014. He has a very good filly running at the moment – Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes Winner Iotapa."
In five crops of horses ages 3 years old and older, Afleet Alex has produced 23 stakes winners from 369 starters that have amassed more than $21.3 million in purse earnings through April 10.
Afleet Alex still stands at Gainesway Farm where he was joined by his son Afleet Express in 2011.