Jun 17, 2005
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD
By: JOE GIRARDI
With the Belmont now over and done with there are many people that are
saying what might have been. AFLEET ALEX took two legs of the Triple Crown
and was a close-up third in the first leg, the Kentucky Derby. His dominance over
the last two legs was clear and he is a very exciting three year old.
The Belmont had a field of 11 horses with AFLEET ALEX going off as the
prohibitive favorite. The second choice in the race was the Kentucky Derby winner
GIACOMO who was sent off at 5-1. Everyone else in the race was double digits
odds. The actual third choice in the race was REVERBERATE who was coming
off a second place finish in the Peter Pan and the close fourth choice was
ANDROMEDA’S HERO, who hadn’t run since finishing unplaced in the Kentucky Derby.
When the gates opened, one the three Nick Zito runners, PINPOINT, found
himself on the lead through moderate fractions of 24:2, 48:3, 1:12:4 before packing
it in past the mile point and finished last. A. P. ARROW, coming off his maiden
win was tracking the pace but he also tired and finished a well beaten fifth.
GIACOMO who stalked the pace while racing in fifth made a move toward the
leaders but could not go by and tired badly in the drive to finish seventh. He was
found to have displaced his upper palate which makes it hard for a horse to breath.
However I don’t know if it would have improved his position and he certainly
wasn’t going to beat AFLEET ALEX. There was talk that they may look to run him
on the turf in California this Summer because of the turf program in Southern California. He is just not good enough to compete with the top three years old especially AFLEET ALEX.
AFLEET ALEX on the other hand was racing towards the back of the pack
early on in 8th with jockey Jeremy Rose never rushing the horse just sitting on him
and letting him do it on his own. As they approached the middle of the far turn
AFLEET ALEX was moving up on his own and was in contention as they approached
the stretch. He blew by the leaders like they were standing still, opening up at will
and scoring by seven lengths. ANDROMEDA’S HERO also closed strongly to
finish well clear for second almost seven lengths clear of the third place finisher. That
third place finisher was the maiden NOLAN’S CAT, many thought that it was a
bad decision to enter the horse in this race and it would cheapen the Belmont for
the horse to run and run last but he did his connections proud closing to finish
third after trailing the field early on. His wide run was solid and he passed a lot of
horses that way much more accomplished. His trainer Dale Romans said that “If this
horse didn’t have some unfortunate events along the way, I think he would have
been a contender throughout the entire Triple Crown,". Nolan's Cat, is now 0-3-2
from six starts. "I was real pleased with the way he ran. He just had some nagging
injuries as a 2-year-old and got caught up in quarantine early this year. I couldn’t
give him enough seasoning. I was pleased with his race, and happy the public
showed him respect. We didn’t have the pace that we had last year in this race. But
he still ran good into a slower pace. He’s the best maiden in the country." With
injuries and his other problems behind him we expect to hear a lot from
NOLAN’S CAT. The first order of business it for him though is to break his maiden
which he should do in his next try at that class.
The rest of the field was clearly beaten obviously not good enough, however,
CHEKHOV $3.3 million yearling (6th in the Belmont) may be better suited to the
turf and you should look for that switch. AFLEET ALEX on the other hand is getting
ready for the big summer races. The Haskell at Monmouth Park is next on the
agenda with the Travers at Saratoga a possibility along with the Super Derby. His
main goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont on October 29th. With the recen
t injury and retirement of the great GHOSTZAPPER, AFLEET ALEX can make
a strong push for horse of the year. It should be an intereseting Summer/fall.
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