Afleet Alex’s running line in the official chart for the 2005 Preakness simply says, “clipped heels, stumbled.” It is what happened immediately after that incident that makes Afleet Alex’s performance one of the most remarkable in Preakness history.
Afleet Alex comes to mind this year because his owner Cash is King LLC is represented in the 2018 Preakness by Diamond King. Managing Partner Chuck Zacney said, “Being new to the game back in 2005, we never thought we’d have a horse like Alex, and then trying to get there again over the years and we realized how difficult it is.”
Diamond King was purchased last year at the Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic 2-year-old in training sale, which happens a few days after the Preakness at Timonium Race Track in Maryland.
After a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Afleet Alex was the 3.30-1 favorite in a Preakness that had a full-field of fourteen. The running style of the son of Northern Afleet was to come from off the pace and Alex had done quite well doing so. He entered the big race at Pimlico with six wins and two seconds in 10 career starts.
In the early going in the Preakness, jockey Jeremy Rose settled Afleet Alex in 10th some nine lengths behind the leader. On this day, Rose had plenty of horse as they settled along the rail saving ground down the backstretch. Heading into the final turn Rose guided his horse to the outside as they quickly passed horses. Ramon Dominguez, who was aboard the leader Scrappy T, asked his horse for more run with left-handed urging as he horses straightened out for home. Scrappy T was startled and ducked out a few paths just as Afleet Alex was about to go by the leader on the outside.
Scrappy T moved directly in front of Alex, clipping heels, which caused him to stumble awkwardly almost to his knees. Afleet Alex was in full stride at the time, and somehow, Rose was able to keep his balance and stay on the horse.
What was even more remarkable than the jockey staying on board, was that the horse didn’t go down and that he was able to get back up and into stride almost instantly. Rose and Afleet Alex suddenly moved to the inside and in a matter of five or six steps were in the lead and drawing away.
On the race track, Afleet Alex earned $2,765,800. Now 16-years-old, he resides at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, KY, where he stands stallion duty for an $8,500 fee. Afleet Alex has produced 30 stakes winners, of which 13 are graded and seven are Grade 1 winners. His offspring have won more the $38 million.
On that day at Pimlico, 125,687 racing fans witnessed one of the most dramatic moments in history of the race. Afleet Alex’s performance on that day in May would place the 2005 Preakness near the top of my list of the greatest Preakness moments.
Photo of Afleet Alex courtesy of NYRA