Along with the connections of 3-year-old champion Afleet Alex, the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has announced a fundraising plan to benefit hurricane relief efforts. According to Betsey Gruwell, the organization's executive director, proceeds from an online auction of items worn by Afleet Alex on Saturday's "Afleet Alex Day" at Delaware Park will go to support victims of Hurricane Katrina. So far, the Delaware Thoroughbred Horseman's Association has donated $250,000 to the NTRA Charities' "Racing to the Rescue" hurricane relief fund, while Delaware Park helped launch the state's similar "Delaware Good Neighbor Fund" with a $1 million contribution.
Trainer Tim Ritchey initiated the auction of Afleet Alex items. "When you see the images on TV, you can't even realize what these people are going through," he said. "Not only did they lose their homes, they lost relatives' lives. Any time we can do something for people in need, I think we should step up to the plate and do that." "We have four shoes that were worn by Alex when he came in on Friday," Gruwell said. "Each of those will be auctioned separately with a photograph of the blacksmith removing them and a certificate of authenticity. We'll have them listed on e-Bay by next Saturday." The saddle towel that Afleet Alex wore in the paddock parade at Delaware will also be listed after being autographed by Ritchey and jockey Jeremy Rose. A picture of the autographing session will accompany the towel, as will a photo of the horse in the paddock. On-site attendance for "Afleet Alex Day," held in conjunction with Delaware Park's 13th annual owner's day, was 8,200 – up from an average daily attendance of 2,000. The Northern Afleet colt returned to Belmont Park Sunday morning.
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