Hopeful S. (gr. I)

(gr. I , 7f ,)

AFLEET ALEX (B h, 122 lb) $150,000
Northern Afleet —Maggy Hawk , by Hawkster
B—John Martin Silvertand, FL.; O—Cash is King LLC; T—Timothy F. Ritchey

Devils Disciple (DK B/ g, 122 lb) $50,000
Devil His Due —Stormfeather , by Storm Bird
B—Earl Pierpont, FL.; O—John Somers; T—Joseph J. Waunsch

Flamenco (CH h, 122 lb) $25,000
Dance Master —Libre , by Fly So Free
B—Moloney & Thompson, FL.; O—Peachtree Stable; T—Todd A. Pletcher

Margins: neck, 1¾, 11. Others: Consolidator 122($12,500) , Storm Surge 122($7,500) , Wild Nature (GB) 122($2,500) , Winning Expression 122($2,500) . Winning Jockey, Jeremy Rose.

The Aug. 21 Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga matched two of the year’s fastest 2-year-olds in Afleet Alex and Devils Disciple over a sloppy track. It was odds-on favorite Afleet Alex who lived up to his name in the seven-horse field, but only by a neck while extending his unbeaten streak to four. Devils Disciple, the second choice at nearly 3-1, finished 13/4 lengths in front of third-place finisher Flamenco.

The victory was the second recent stakes win for the team of owner Charles Zacney and trainer Tim Ritchey. Afleet Alex races in the name of Cash is King Stable. Separato, who won the Aug. 14 Larry R. Riviello President’s Cup Stakes at Philadelphia Park, is campaigned in the name of CJZ Racing Stable.

Zacney, a Philadelphia businessman, claimed Separato, but bought Afleet Alex at auction, paying $75,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale of 2-year-olds in training. Afleet Alex was consigned by Robert N. Scanlon, agent. Afleet Alex won the following month at his home track of Delaware Park by 111/4 lengths in a 51/2 furlong maiden race.

Afleet Alex departed Saratoga for Delaware the day after the Hopeful. “Everything’s great,” Ritchey said. “He ate up everything last night and walked good this morning.”

Ritchey said Afleet Alex would run in either the Sept. 19 Futurity Stakes (gr. II) or the Oct. 9 Champagne Stakes (gr. I), both at Belmont Park.

“We’ll nominate to the Futurity, but the Hopeful was a hard race for him,” Ritchey said. “He’ll have to show me he really came out of the race well to run in the Futurity, or we’ll just wait for the Champagne.”

The Hopeful, for years the closing day feature, has a storied history. First run in 1903 and won by Delhi, the following year’s Belmont Stakes winner, the race boasts such past winners as all-time greats Regret, Man o’ War, Whirlaway, Native Dancer, Nashua, Buckpasser, Secretariat, and Affirmed (over Alydar).

Northern Afleet, sire of Afleet Alex, has sired seven stakes winners, including additional 2004 added-money winners Native Hawk, Saint Afleet, and Teak Totem. The last-named won the Aspidistra Handicap at Calder Race Course the same day as the Hopeful. Northern Afleet stands at Donald Dizney’s Double Diamond Farm near Ocala, Fla. His 2004 fee was $5,000.—D.S.