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Apr 29, 2005

Bellamy Road, Afleet Alex co-favorites at 3-1 to win Kentucky Derby

By: Kelso Sturgeon

There is no reason to feel a bit lost as you try to handicap this year’s Kentucky Derby, which will be run for the 131st time in just 17 days at history Churchill Downs in Louisville. This is a dynamite crop of 3-year-olds and it is not a stretch to make a case for several of those intending to run.

It is just my opinion but I believe this is the best crop of 3-year-olds since 1967 when the likes of Damascus, Dr. Fager and In Realty dominated the sophomore Thoroughbred picture. That is a mouthful, since both Damascus and the good doctor are enshrined in the Hall of Fame and In Realty should be.

What other opinion can one have?

Bellamy Road looks like an absolute freak—the second coming of Seattle Slew—having won his last two starts by a combined total of more than 33 lengths, including the $750,000 Wood Memorial in stakes tying record time. Folks like to say the track was lightning fast and that he beat nothing in the Wood, but the story is not in the competition but in the fractions as he rolled to a 17 ½-length victory.

Bellamy Road was in front all the way in :23, :46, 1:09 4.5, 1:34 2/5 and at the 1 1/8 miles in 1:47. It was the fastest time for this race since Riva Ridge reported home in 1:47 32 years ago. Jockey Javier Castellano was reprimanded after the race by the stewards for throwing kisses to the crowd at the eighth pole.

If that was an eye-opening performance, so was the $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby, which was in won dominating style by Afleet Alex who reported home in front by eight lengths and ran the last sixteenth of a mile in an eye-opening 11 4/5 seconds.

Afleet Alex exploded coming into the stretch and opened up five before getting home by eight in 1:48 4/5 for the 1 1/8th miles. Nothing else was even in the hunt at the finish line.

Bandini, a lightly raced son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, was at least as impressive in burying an outstanding field of 3-year-olds in the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He was at the wire six widening lengths in front of the previously undefeated High Limit, who earlier had won the Louisiana Derby.

We have at least three outstanding 3-year-olds heading for Louisville and six or seven others than cannot be discounted or ignored. At this time it appears Bellamy Road and Alfeet Alex will be 3-1 co-favorites to win the Kentucky Derby, with Bandini right behind at 5-1.

The folks at Churchill Downs said today they do not think there will be a full field of 20 horses for the Derby but that 16 or 17 will show up to run, depending on the outcome of the $325,000 Coolmore Stakes at Keeneland Saturday.


Here is my list of probable Kentucky Derby starters, with trainer and jockey.

1.- Bellamy Road, Nick Zito, Javier Castellano
2.- Afleet Alex, Tim Ritchey, Jeremy Rose
3.- Bandini, Todd Pletcher, J.R. Velazquez
4.- Noble Causeway, Nick Zito, Gary Stevens
5.- Closing Argument, Kiaran P. McLaughlin, Cornelio Velasquez
6.- High Fly, Nick Zito, Jerry Bailey
7.- Flower Alley, Todd Pletcher, Jorge Chavez
8.- Greater Good, Bob Holthus, John McKee
9.- Andromeda’s Hero, Nick Zito, Open
10.- High Limit, Robert Frankel, Ramon Dominquez
11.- Greeley’s Galaxy, Warren Stute, Kent Desormeaux
12.- Wilko, Craig Dollace, Corey Nakatani
13.- Rockport Harbor, John Servis, Stewart Elliott
14.- Sun King, Nick Zito, Edgar Prado
15.- Buzzards Bay, Jeff Mullins, Mark Guidry
16.- Consolidator, D. Wayne Lukas, Rafael Bejarano
17.- Going Wild, W. Wayne Lukas, Open
18.- Wild Desert, Kenneth McPeak, Open
19.- General John B., Roger Stein, Jon Court


It should be of interest to Kentucky Derby handicappers that three trends of cast their spell on this race. They are:

No horse that did not have an April prep race has won the Kentucky Derby in the past 20 years.

No horse that did not run as a 2-year-old has won the Kentucky Derby since 1882.

No horse that did not have at least three starts as a 3-year-old has won the Kentucky Derby in the past 20 years.

Here is how this year’s 3-year-olds stack up in those three categories.

Greeley’s Galaxy

Bellamy Road
Closing Argument
High Limit
Rockport Harbor

All have had an April prep race


The true speed horses in the race are…
Bellamy Road
Going Wild
Greeley’s Galaxy
High Limit
Rockport Harbor

The stalkers are…
Alfeet Alex
Closing Argument
Flower Alley
General John B
High Fly
Sun King

The closers are…
Greater Good
Noble Causeway
Wild Desert
Andromeda’s Hero
Buzzards Bay

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