Afleet Alex remained unbeaten in three starts with an impressive 5 1/4-length victory in Thursday's Sanford Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga. The 2-year-old Northern Afleet
colt set a stakes record in the process, running the six furlongs in 1:09.32. The previous record, 1:09 2/5, was set by Elocutionist.
Owned by Cash is King Stable and trained by Tim Ritchey, Afleet Alex made his first two starts at Delaware Park. He broke his maiden by 11 1/4 lengths on June 26, and then won an allowance race by a dozen lengths on July 12.
In the Sanford, Afleet Alex, a slight 3-1 favorite ridden again by Jeremy Rose, stalked the pace set by Lunarpal and Winning Expression, and then made an impressive move in the turn for home. He was moving easily five wide and took complete control of the race.
Lunarpal, Winning Expression and Consolidator sparred through fractions of :22 1/5; :48 2/5; and :57 1/5.
"This horse is a beast," Rose said. "He's classy enough to sit off the speed and take off. I really didn't have to do much with him, other than keep him out of trouble. I've been on decent horses before, but this one is special because of the way he runs. He is so athletic and professional. He does everything you ask him, whether it is in a workout or a race. It seems he has an unlimited amount of gears; that's why I think he can easily go longer."
Afleet Alex has now won on sloppy tracks and fast tracks and handled 10 rivals. The $250,000 Hopeful (gr. I) for 2-year-olds at seven furlongs at Saratgoa Aug. 21 looms, but Ritchey says he'll keep his options open.
"I never commit until I train a horse," he said. "A lot of things can happen. He trained well, so I brought him up here and he ran well. I thought he had a pretty good chance. It was a matter of whether the shipping and the different racetrack and the tougher competition would get to him.
"We haven't got to the bottom of this horse. Two races at Delaware, (Rose) just sat on him. When they run those kinds of races, you've got to put him where you can find out what they have. He's a nice horse. We'll find out if he's a very nice horse in the near future."
Flamenco, ridden by Jerry Bailey, edged Consolidator and Pat Day by a neck for second.
"He showed a new dimension sitting behind horses," said trainer Todd Pletcher of Flamenco. "He took some dirt and he had to wait for room a little bit. The winner was very impressive and had an awesome turn of foot turning for home. I think my horse deserves a shot in the Hopeful."
Afleet Alex was bred in Florida by John Martin Silverland and sold at the 2004 Midlantic juvenile sale by Bobby Scanlon as agent. He was purchased by CJZ Racing Stable for $75,000. He is out of the Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk.
Afleet Alex returned $8, $4.90, and $3.60, while Flamenco finished second and paid $7.50 and $5. Closing ground for third was Consolidator, the second choice in the field of 11, who paid $2.90.
Winning Expression, Departing Now, Lunarpal, Smokescreen, Calypso Band, Maximus C, Gold Joy and Fire Path followed.