A chilly Tuesday morning on the Churchill Downs backstretch brought out the warmth in the heart of B. Wayne Hughes. The owner of possible dual Kentucky Derby (gr. I) entrants Greeley's Galaxy and Don't Get Mad matched Afleet Alex's majority owner/partner Charles Zacney bid for bid, landing a 2006 no guarantee season right to Afleet Alex's sire Northern Afleet
--all in the name of charity.
"What sire is it?" a chuckling Hughes asked after the gavel struck, on the hook now for $37,000 after outpacing Zacney for the prize. "I just came because the Taylor boys told me to come here and bid, so I did. It's all for charity, and it's a good cause," said Hughes of the auction on the clocker's stand to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand for Pediatric Cancer.
Much of the credit for the event was due to the generosity of the Northern Afleet syndicate, which owns the stallion, and its manager, Taylor Made/Winstar Venture. The groups teamed up to donate a season to Northern Afleet, who stands for fee of $12,500 at the Taylor family's Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky.
Those on hand to watch the bidding were present because of Alexandra "Alex" Scott, whose battle with an aggressive childhood disease known as neuroblastoma ended last year when she was just eight years old.
In 1997, just two days before her first birthday, Alex was diagnosed with the disease. When she turned four, the precocious child decided to do something to make a cure a little more likely. In July of 2000, she opened her first lemonade stand with the idea of donating the proceeds to "her hospital." Each year after that, Alex's lemonade stand opened in her front yard. As word spread, donations poured in from around the world and eventually Alex had raised over $1,600,000. For more on her efforts, see Alexslemonade.com
"Alex was a fighter," said her mother Liz, on hand from her home in Philadelphia to help honor her daughter's achievement. "These horses behind me remind me of her in that way. I can't express how much it means for me to have my Alex part of the Kentucky Derby."
Zacney has pledged to donate a portion of his grade I-winning horse's earnings to Alex's Lemonade Stand, a foundation to help children with cancer that lives in her name.