May 27, 2005
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
After the 130th running of the Preakness on Saturday May 21st, 2005
there were many that thought what might have been. It was clear that we saw
the best three year old in the country running at Pimlico. If he could have won
the Derby instead of finishing a close-up third we would have our best chance
at a Triple Crown, even better than SMARTY JONES’S chance we had last year.
With a full field of 14 horses was sent off as the lukewarm favorite
going off at 3.30-1. HIGH FLY was sent off as the 5-1 second choice with
GIACOMO, a close third choice at 6-1. AFLEET ALEX broke towards the back
of the pack and raced in tenth past the half mile pole before he started to
make his move on the inside pasrt of the track. The fractions were not as hot
as they were in the Derby but they were honest. HIGH LIMIT, with blinkers on
led through fractions of 23, 46, 1:10:3, before SCRAPPY T, who was sitting
second, took over into the turn.
As they approached the top of the stretch SCRAPPY T held the lead
with AFLEET ALEX was making a very strong move to the leader when
tragedy was averted. When the jockey of SCRAPPY T, Ramon Dominguez hit
his horse lefty the horse veered very quickly to the right and at the same time
AFLEET ALEX just happen to be there and he clipped heels badly, stumbling
to his knees but somehow was able to get back on his feet and go on to still
score by almost five lengths. Jockey Jeremy Rose did a phenomenal job to stay
on the horse and possibly save his life. The whole field was about 5 lengths
behind the top two horses and it would have been a very bad situation. Rose
credited the athleticism of the horse and this writer would have to agree. The
horse showed not only how athletic he is but how classy he is to still go on and
score by 4 and ¾’s lengths.
GIACOMO closed to finish third but he was just an afterthought after
the incident at the top of the stretch. He was right off of AFLEET ALEX, racing
in 11th but when it counted he didn’t have enough punch and is just not as
good as AFLEET ALEX. He did however show some heart to beat the rest of
the field especially when he was hopelessy beaten on the win end. SUN KING
ran an improved race to finish fourth but was beaten more than 10 lengths.
HIGH LIMIT, the pacesetter also ran an improved race to finish fifth and it is
obvious he is a better horse when he can make the lead.
The biggest disappointment in the race was CLOSING ARGUMENT, who
was a close second in the Derby and many felt his running style would be better
suited to Pimlico but he didn’t run a step after laying close to the pace early on
and tired to finish ninth. HIGH FLY was another that many felt would give a
better performance at the Preakness but his 10th place showing was also a
disappointment. Look for his connections to make a switch to the turf with
this horse, we always felt his future might be that of a turf horse, follow his progress.
Another interesting note was that GOING WILD who was entered
in this race off three races in which he was beaten by 86 lengths. He does
have some speed but that is about it. His most recent last place effort in the
Preakness he was beaten by 43 lengths. His trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who
used to be a force in these Triple Crown races went overboard here. This horse
doesn’t belong and the fact that he continues to get beat multiple lengths he
should give him some rest and find a proper level for this horse, nowhere close
to the top three year olds.
The Belmont is coming up in a few weeks and it will be interesting to
see who enters the race against AFLEET ALEX. He is clearly the best three year
old right now and it doesn’t seem that the distance really matters. Hopefully he
will stay healthy and racing can have a star for a few years, something it
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