Bob Brittingham couldn't help but shake his head and smile. It was one of those shakes when something almost too good to be true is happening, and one of those wry smiles people get when they are on a roll.
Less than 24 hours before, Brittingham, a member of Cash is King Stable, had just watched Afleet Alex recover from a near-disastrous spill in the Preakness Stakes (gr. 1) to go on for one of the most improbable victories in history. Now, here was at Delaware Park, still trying to figure out if what he witnessed the day before really did happen.
Brittingham was at Delaware to watch two more of his horses run. Though the atmosphere wasn't nearly as wild as it was the day before at Pimlico Race Course, Brittingham was rooting just as hard for his two fillies.
The first to run was Racing Luck, a 4-year-old competing in a $35,000 claimer. The trainer was Tim Ritchey, the jockey Jeremy Rose--the same pair that handles Afleet Alex. Racing Luck destroyed the field; Rose never went to the whip.
In the next race, Cash is King had the 3-year old filly Kelsey's Treasure, who was making her career debut. Again, it was the Ritchey and Rose connection. At this point, Brittingham didn't dare think his luck could get any better. He was wrong.
Kelsey's Treasure produced an eye-popping performance that had Brittingham thinking of Afleet Alex once again. Her stunning 12 1/2-length victory was not unlike Afleet Alex's maiden romp last year at Delaware Park.
Kelsey's Treasure recorded a whopping 106 Beyer Speed Figure. It was a performance that wouldn't get nearly as much hype as Afleet Alex caused the day before. But for Brittingham, it was still special.
"It was the perfect ending to the perfect weekend," Brittingham said. "Kelsey's Treasure broke her maiden the same way that Alex did, at the same place. It was almost like we came full circle. She did it with ease on her own. We were on a real high after that."
Kelsey's Treasure is a Florida-bred by Northern Afleet
, who also sired Afleet Alex, out of the Sword Dancer mare Proveittome. Cash is King purchased her privately last year. She is named for Cash is King partner Joe Judge's daughter, Kelsey. Afleet Alex was also named for three of the partners' children.
"We bought her at the end of last year," Brittingham said. "We were looking for Northern Afleet colts. We were trying to get the jump on people who didn't know what we knew. We visited a bunch of farms. I think we saw 20 or 30 Northern Afleet horses.
"We wanted a colt, but she was bred so well on the bottom end. It was easier to see her talent because she was already a 2-year old."
On June 1, Kelsey's Treasure dominated a Delaware allowance race and won by three lengths, again with Rose aboard. There is no official plan for Kelsey's Treasure, but a stakes at Saratoga in August seems a good possibility.
With Afleet Alex sidelined with a fracture, Brittingham and the other Cash is King partners have something to look forward to in the near term with an undefeated filly who has banked $42,000 in only two starts. Brittingham said he still expects to have a great time even if Cash is King never again has a Derby horse.
"To win a classic race is a whole different feeling," said Brittingham, who noted Cash is King now has about 14 horses in its stable. "We may never get back there again. And that will be OK with me. I never got into this thinking we would have a Derby horse. If it happens again--great. If not, I can still enjoy the rest of our horses and have a great time."