- Belmont favorite Afleet Alex worked out at Pimlico, where he’s been stranded since last weekend due to the suspected strangles case in New York. Alex was clocked in fractions of :14, :26 2/5, :38, and :49 4/5 for the half mile. He was caught galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5, pulling up seven panels in 1:29. He did this all with no reported stumbles either. Tim Ritchey plans to ship him up here on Saturday, as long as everything is under control. Jockey Jeremy Rose is starting to sound rather cocky:
"None of them really scare me….. are very nice horses, very accomplished horses. They have to be to run in this race, but as long as Alex is under me, he does the talking. He just does what he does and pretty much silences everybody, especially after the Preakness. Now they are saying he can't go a mile and a half. Do you think it would have mattered in that race? If it were a mile and a half, how many more would we have won by?" [Bloodhorse]Well, you could have said the same thing about Funny Cide and Smarty Jones, who both drew away to impressive Preakness wins. It doesn’t work that way for a mile and a half, or for Belmont. One of Alex’s great attributes is his agility and his ability to scoot by his opponents on the turn as he did at Pimlico and in the Arkansas Derby (and to a lesser extent in the Derby). The sweeping turns at Belmont will partly mitigate that advantage, and there’s still no guarantee that he (or anyone else) will get the Belmont distance. I see the Belmont as an opportunity to bet against the favorite and have some fun with it; if he wins, then all due respect to the best (healthy) 3 yo around.
Wow, Oratory got a 114 Beyer for the Peter Pan – that’s higher than Afleet Alex’s Preakness 112. Perhaps the Beyer folks should use the Timeform method of putting a “+” sign next to a fig like Alex's to indicate that his effort was really better than the number indicates. Still, Oratory is not going in the Belmont, but runnerup Reverberate and maiden-only winner Chekhov may. The latter’s owner-trainer team of Tabor-Biancone shows even less respect for their own horses than they do for the game. The owner paid $3.3 million for this colt, and you can bet your bottom dollar he’ll be rushed to the breeding shed soon after he earns some black type….if he ever does so.
- I don’t know of any other sport in which people get elected to the Hall of Fame before they retire. I guess it’s the only way to honor them with an induction since many trainers don’t ever retire. Auto racing maybe? Or do you have to be killed in a fiery crash to qualify? The only requirement is that the trainer be active for 25 years. Nick Zito has been eligible for 8 years, but didn’t even reach finalist status until last year, and yesterday he became this year’s sole flat racing inductee. Others elected during Zito's time of eligibility were Phil Johnson, Bill Mott, D. Wayne Lukas, Neil Drysdale, Richard Mandella, Bud Delp and Sonny Hine. [Louisville Courier-Journal] Here’s a Zito fact sheet, from the same Courier-Journal piece:
134 stakes victories.
83 graded stakes victories.
24 Grade I stakes victories.
Two champions: Storm Song, '96 2-year-old filly; 2003, Bird Town, 3-year-old filly.
Won the Grade I Champagne at Belmont Park four times, including three years in a row: 1998 (The Groom is Red), '99 (Greenwood Lake), 2000 (A P Valentine).
Won the Blue Grass at Keeneland three times: '91 Strike the Gold, '98 Halory Hunter, 2004 The Cliff's Edge.
Won the Kentucky Derby twice, Pimlico Special twice, the Wood Memorial twice, the Remsen twice and the Bed o' Roses twice.
Has won five races with $1 million purses.
In 1996, Louis Quatorze won the Preakness in 1:532/5, equaling Tank's Prospect's stakes record. The time remains the stakes record.
On May 7, 2003, Najran equaled Dr. Fager's world record for 1 mile on the dirt with a time of 1:32.24.