Stackin’ Cheddar: Recalling Afleet Alex’s Sizzling Stakes Debut at the Spa

Gambling
Afleet Alex won his first stakes race at Saratoga (pictured) in the 2004 Sanford Stakes; he would go on to win the 2005 Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes and be voted champion 3-year-old male. (Blood-Horse photo)

This marks the latest edition of “Stackin’ Cheddar: Looking Back”, a new biweekly series on America’s Best Racing. Here, we’ll look back on an early race in the careers of some of the greatest horses of all time, including spots where they went off at a big price.


July 29, 2004

Sanford Stakes

Race 8, Saratoga

The 2005 Preakness Stakes was one of the most remarkable editions of the race in recent times. Afleet Alex, who previously finished third in the Kentucky Derby, was in the midst of a strong rally on the final turn when longshot Scrappy T bore out and cut him off. Afleet Alex stumbled badly on the turn and came close to falling, but bounced back and roared away to victory by 4 ¾ lengths.

Ten months prior, the Tim Ritchey-trained colt made his stakes debut in the Sanford Stakes on the first Thursday of the 2004 Saratoga meet. He carried a perfect record into the race, having broken his maiden in his first start at Delaware Park on June 26, followed by an allowance win there a few weeks later. He went off as the slight 3-1 favorite in a ten-horse field, just a nudge lower odds than Churchill Downs invader Consolidator.

Afleet Alex rated wide off a fast early pace and then made his move to the lead on the far turn. In the stretch, he pulled clear under right-handed urging from Jeremy Rose and drew off impressively in the last eighth. He crossed the wire 5 ¼ lengths in front, covering six furlongs in an impressive 1:09.32, and paid $8 to win.

Afleet Alex would never pay a lower price. He won the Hopeful Stakes next out as the 7-10 favorite despite drifting out in the stretch. As a 3-year-old, he won four stakes races, taking the Arkansas Derby and the Belmont Stakes in very impressive fashion in addition to the Preakness. He was voted the 2005 champion 3-year-old male.

1. Afleet Alex

$8.00

$4.90  

$3.60

2. Flamenco                  

$7.50

$5.00

3.Consolidator                         

$2.90

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