For 'Unbelievable' Horse, Everything Seems Possible
Updated: Friday, June 10, 2005 9:52 AM
Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2005 8:12 AM
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club/Jim McCue
Afleet Alex, an "unbelievable" horse.
Bob Brittingham refuses to watch replays of the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. 1). He said it's too scary to imagine what might have happened at the top of the stretch.
"I watched it twice right after the race was over and I had to quickly turn my head away," said Brittingham, one of five partners in Cash Is King Stable, which owns Afleet Alex. "I won't watch it anymore. It was that close to being a disaster. Even after the race was over, I was not elated. I was still scared that our horse might be injured.
"It wasn't until (trainer) Tim Ritchey had him examined and we found out later in the week that he was going to be OK that I could relax and enjoy it."
The aftermath of the incredible Preakness victory for Afleet Alex is still being talked about more than two weeks later. It will be one of the most talked about Triple Crown races for years to come. The horrifying images of the 3-year old colt clipping heels with Scrappy T while rounding the final turn at Pimlico Race Course is still a frightening sight to see, no matter how many times it is replayed in slow motion.
That Afleet Alex was miraculously able to recover and draw off to a 4 3/4 -length win, and that jockey Jeremy Rose was able to stay on the colt when he almost tumbled still have observers wondering. But for a horse that has produced one great story after another since his birth, it shouldn't have been a surprise.
"The horse is unbelievable and has been from the beginning, Brittingham said. "It sounds a little corny, but I have become very attached to him. If anything would have happened to him, I don't think I could have lived with myself. As owners, I know we did nothing. We just put up the money. The horse deserves all the credit for doing this and overcoming everything."
There is still at least one chapter left to be told in the heartwarming story that has included the now famous Alex's Lemonade Stand, a breeder (John Silvertand) battling terminal cancer, and a dam (Maggy Hawk) that couldn't produce milk when Afleet Alex was born. Chapter three will be written Saturday in New York in the Belmont Stakes (gr. 1).
Brittingham, 42, who is from suburban Philadelphia, said anything Afleet Alex accomplishes in the race would be gravy. He said he never expected the horse to get this far. And after all that has happened, he feels extremely fortunate to even have a horse in the field.
Most of all, he said he's happy that Rose and Ritchey won't have to answer the doubters anymore.
"I'm glad that Jeremy and Tim have finally been given credit and they are getting some respect," Brittingham said. "People told us that we should have taken Jeremy off Alex before the Kentucky Derby. Now, everyone is thanking us that we did not.
"Tim's training methods were called into question before the Derby, too. Now they think he is a genius. It's good to see him get his due. We're all just going to try to enjoy this one."To purchase photographs of Afleet Alex and other great thoroughbreds, click here.
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