Looking Back at Afleet Alex and Tapit

Two of the greatest moments on the Triple Crown trail came courtesy of Afleet Alex and Tapit, who both reside at Gainesway Farm. Alex, of course, is known for his remarkable recovery after stumbling so badly in the Preakness Stakes, his nose actually hit the dirt. Miraculously, he was able to pick himself up off the ground, and smoothly switch leads and draw off to an easy victory over Scrappy T., the horse who veered sharply in his path at the top of the stretch, nearly causing one of the worst catastrophes in Triple Crown history.

After nearly 10 years, that remains arguably the single most athletic feat by a Thoroughbred seen in many years.

Coincidentally, the day before the Preakness, Afleet Alex’s jockey, Jeremy Rose, said of the colt, “This horse will run on broken glass if I ask him.”

The following day, the prophetic words of Rose and the heart of Afleet Alex became etched in Preakness lore. For as long as they run races at historic Pimlico Race Course, there will be erected a monument in the mind at the head of the stretch, honoring the courage and athleticism of a small bay colt and the rider with whom he bonded.

It all happened so quickly, yet the horrific image of Afleet Alex nearly falling after clipping heels will remain embedded in the memory, forever teetering on the edge of disaster.

Here was Afleet Alex, the horse whose life has been encompassed with one fairy tale saga after another, storming up on the outside of the leader, longshot Scrappy T. The record 115,318 fans in attendance erupted as they sensed the Cinderella story unfolding before them. But, in the blink of an eye, the scene changed. Jockey Ramon Dominguez reached back and gave Scrappy T a roundhouse left-handed whip, causing the colt to veer sharply to his right, and directly into the path of Afleet Alex. The crowd sensed that something ominous was about to happen, as if watching a car blow its front tire at the Indy 500 and spinning perilously out of control in front of oncoming traffic. Everyone held their breath, and then let out a collective gasp.

Rose, who was expecting to see nothing but wide open spaces in front of him as he turned for home, suddenly was staring straight down into the brown Pimlico loam, which was moving rapidly toward him. Afleet Alex had clipped Scrappy T's heels and stumbled so badly, his face and knees were only inches from the ground. Rose's arms were now fully extended, as his body lurched in the air. He could only hang on to the reins, while reaching to try to grab hold of Alex's mane, and hope the colt who had become such a special part of his life would be able to pull himself off the ground.

"I think my heart stopped," Rose said. "I have no idea how I stayed on. I was basically hanging on in fear."

In one of the most remarkable recoveries ever seen, Afleet Alex not only was able to stay on his feet and keep Rose on his back, he got right back to the business of winning the race as if nothing had happened. It took him only two strides to switch over to his right lead, and just as quickly and dramatically as the scene had changed, it returned to normal. The only difference was that Alex was now on the inside of Scrappy T instead of the outside, his eyes glaring and his ears pinned, as if incensed at Scrappy T for putting him through such an ordeal.

Rose coolly regained his composure, and he and Alex quickly were back in sync, drawing off from Scrappy T to win by 4 3/4 lengths.

Alex provided another memorable moment, but this one was not in a race. It occurred while training for the Belmont Stakes.

It was a sweltering morning, with temperatures reaching into the 90s by 8:30. The humidity was so bad, people’s clothes clung to their body like wetsuits.

Afleet Alex, as was his custom, had already been out for his customary jog around the Belmont oval, and was now back for his usual second tour of the track, this time for a stiff gallop.

Accompanied by his trainer Tim Ritchey on the pony, Alex stepped onto the track and proceeded to turn in his typical strong mile and a half open gallop. I stood on the steps of the trainer’s stand with Bobby Frankel.

“Boy, he looks good,” Frankel said, as Afleet Alex motored by us at a powerful clip. Frankel was becoming more of a fan of Afleet Alex by the day, amazed at what the colt had been able to accomplish with such a rigorous twice-a-day training regimen. It was unheard of for a horse to train twice in a day, and many had been second-guessing Ritchey’s methods, including Frankel. But Ritchey, a former event rider, was a big believer in building up a horse’s stamina.

Frankel, extremely impressed with the gallop he had just seen, was heading back down the stairs of the trainer’s stand when we both noticed a horse flying past us. We couldn’t believe it. It was Afleet Alex coming around a second time. He was having a three-mile open gallop, and in stifling heat, and was actually getting stronger the farther he went.

Frankel could only shake his head in disbelief. When Alex and Ritchey came off the track, Alex’s veins were protruding outside his body and looked like a road map on connecting lines. Ritchey, his shirt soaked with sweat, looked down and said, “Do you think he’s fit.”

Ritchey didn’t know what to make of this gallop, and returned to the barn wondering if he had pushed the horse too far.

Frankel, on the other hand, was now totally convinced this horse was something special.

“You know what?” he said. “I was thinking, he just may be that good. Maybe he is a Seattle Slew or an Affirmed or one of those kinds. Looking how fast he’s run on his Sheet numbers, the fact that he’s still around and doing what he’s doing is pretty amazing.”

It became even more amazing when Alex demolished his field in the Belmont Stakes, winning eased up by seven lengths after weaving his way through the field from the back of the pack. His final quarter of :24 2/5 was one of the fastest final quarters in Belmont history.

Unfortunately, Alex never raced again after suffering a fracture. When he was operated on, veterinarian Patty Hogan said she had to go through several drill heads because Alex’s bone was so hard.

Afleet Alex resides at Gainesway Farm, and it was great seeing him again on a sunny, breezy afternoon the day before this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Alex has sired a number of top-class horses, including Travers Stakes winner Afleet Express, who also stands at Gainesway, and Afleet Again, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon and Withers Stakes. In all he has sired 10 graded stakes winners, 23 black type stakes winners, and two champions.

He’s got a presence about him,” said Gainesway director of sales Michael Hernon. “He’s like a big Labrador, he really is.”

After starting off hot, Alex is looking for that next big horse to put him back in the limelight.

“The market is so unforgiving,” Hernon said. “The health of the horse is really significant. I remember reading a book by Tesio, and he’d go around looking at the stallions and if he didn’t that horse was primed and in great condition, he would wait a year; he might wait two years. It makes a lot of sense. The well being of the horse is really pertinent.”

If you’re looking for a current hot stallion, you can say Tapit has been scorching. With the magnificent Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable, the Peter Pan winner and leading Belmont Stakes contender Tonalist, Florida Derby winner Constitution, Tampa Bay Derby winner Ring Weekend , top-class stakes horses Tapiture, Belmont Stakes starter Matterhorn, Coup de Grace, Harpoon, Tap It Rich, and the brilliant, but ill-fated Hartford, Tapit has taken the racing and breeding world by storm.

“I remember watching him win the Laurel Futurity and going straight to the books to look up his pedigree,” Hernon recalled. “That really impressed me.  Then you see names like Relaunch and Foggy Note and Mahmoud. Once a horse shows that kind of brilliance and acceleration you know he has it. 

“He had that smooth as silk acceleration, and he’s also got the pedigree and the physical attributes, and he’s got a great libido. His fertility rate is very high.”

Looking back at Tapit’s memorable moment on the Derby trail, he gave his trainer Michael Dickinson a pleasant and emotional surprise by winning the Wood Memorial, a race Dickinson was convinced the colt was going to lose, due to all the time and training he missed being sick. But it became apparent that this was no ordinary horse.

Dickinson stood off in a corner of the Aqueduct winner’s circle and tried his best to explain how Tapit managed to win the Wood. But even he couldn’t do it. This was more than just another logic-defying conquest by “The Mad Genius.” Although some perceive Dickinson to be a graduate of the Hogwarts School, performing Harry Potter-like feats of magic, he knew there was nothing wizardly about this latest feat.

This was simply a trainer in awe of a horse. Tapit had overcome one setback after another that winter and spring, and somehow was still in the Kentucky Derby picture, despite missing 19 days of training with shin problems, and coming out of his sixth-place finish in the Florida Derby with a serious lung infection and a foot abscess.

“He won’t win the Wood,” Dickinson said a week before the race. “He’s not fit enough. I’ll be over the moon if he can finish third.”

Now, here he was trying to explain how Tapit could come from dead-last over a speed-biased track, circle the field five wide, and mow down every one of his 10 opponents to win by a half-length. And this with only one race all year and only one serious work since the Florida Derby.

“I was dreading the race, because I knew he wasn’t fit,” Dickinson said. “He’s a very generous horse, and he has such a big heart.”

By now, the words were becoming difficult to get out. Tears were welling up, and his voice began to quaver noticeably. “I felt I was putting him into battle unprepared,” he continued. “And if anything had happened I would have blamed myself. But the horse carried me through, and I’m indebted to him. He’s such a generous horse and we love him dearly.”

Following are photos of Afleet Alex and Tapit taken on that beautiful May morning.

Afleet Alex

Tapit

41 Comments

Leave a Comment:

LanceS

What happened to Hartford?  "Ill-fated" in racing writing is generally code for "no longer with us", but I can't find anything beyond a minor injury that took him off the Derby trail.

31 May 2014 8:11 PM
Yukon

As remarkable as was the courage, heart, and will to win displayed by Afleet Alex in the Preakness, even more impressive was the calm demeanor displayed both by him and by Tapit in their paddocks and with their handlers.  Their grooms must give thanks each and every day for their great dispositions!

31 May 2014 8:11 PM
captainsmistress

Thank You so much for the wonderful article and pictures of my forever favorite, Afleet Alex! I want to make it to Gainesway someday. I still get goosebumps watching his Preakness. Tapit is simply stunning, very expensive looking fellow!

31 May 2014 8:19 PM
robinm

Somehow, I don't remember Tapit's perilous trail to the Derby, but I well remember Alex's TC series.  I still believe he should have won the Derby, it wasn't Jeremy's greatest ride which he readily admits.  The Preakness was phenomenal and and his Belmont so impressive, I'm convinced he should have been a TC champion.

Love the pictures, Steve.  Alex looks like a cute little pony compared to the noble-looking Tapit.

31 May 2014 8:51 PM
MIRAMARTZU

I thought I was the only one that remembered that incredible work out by Afleet Alex. I always thought Tim Ritchy did a brilliant training job with him. Right horse for the right trainer.

31 May 2014 9:10 PM
Hail No

Nice column, Afleet Alex would have been a deserving TC Winner, to me, his Derby was a race he likely would win, 4 out of 5 times, if run again..

31 May 2014 9:16 PM
horacefeathers

Great article, Steve.  The Afleet Alex incident in the Preakness still is affecting to watch, no matter how many times you see it.  I wasn't aware of his work regimen before the Belmont, but it sure sounds a heck of a lot like what California Chrome has been showing.  Hopefully the results will be the same come next Saturday.  BTW, in the Tesio paragraph, I think you left out a word after "didn't".  

31 May 2014 9:16 PM
lawrence vaccarelli

alysheba had an eventful trip also.

31 May 2014 9:22 PM
slee

Wonderful piece, thank you!

I still watch replays of Alex's Preakness and expect him to fall.  Somebody asked Jeremy Rose if he stayed on because he was that strong and he said, "no, I that scared."  And so were we all.

These stallions are so different.  Alex still looks like Everyman's horse though with a great eye.  Tapit stands like royalty.  Nice of him to pose right over his name tag for you!

31 May 2014 9:29 PM
Deltalady

Tears well up every time I watch or read about the amazing athleticism of Afleet Alex.  No matter how many times I watch the race, it still blows me away.  Then, his Belmont race was nearly as impressive.  He truly had the heart of a champion on the track.  And what can be said about Zenyatta's second baby daddy! Hoping that Ziconic soaks up that wonderful blood that seems to generate winner after winner. Not to mention that Tapit is one of the most beautiful horses ever, such a kind eye and lovely profile.  Thanks, Steve, for sharing these two gorgeous horses from close up with the recent photos.  Your narrative always makes for interesting reading.

31 May 2014 9:32 PM
trackjack

Nice story Steve, taking us down memory lane. Yes that image is still in my mind of Afleet Alex nosing the ground. I remember gasping for a split second then watching him gather himself and drive to victory.  His Belmont victory was simply dominating. Oh, what could have been!  A group of us did Saratoga on Saturday of closing weekend in '05 and Cooperstown on Sunday. Tim Ritchey paraded Afleet Alex for the fans on Saturday. First the paddock then out on the track to a nice ovation. Got some nice pics in the paddock.

Great shots of the white tornado Tapit. Thanks for the updates and pics.

See you at Belmont.

31 May 2014 9:42 PM
txhorsefan

Thank you for sharing your great memories of Afleet Alex and Tapit, as well as your wonderful photos.  

31 May 2014 10:17 PM
BelmontBarb

Steve Haskin ~

I will be the first here to say what a beautiful piece this is and absolutely touching.....Afleet Alex and Tapit could not get more praise than from you!  I recall them well and able to be near - the extraordinary photos here are perfect leaving a sense of peace that this talented and professional duo have earned as they emulate the royalty of thoroughbreds.  Most touching was the tearful moment of Dickinson who himself was moved by such a humble horses' "generous" heart and giving soul ~ giving all he has got - and remaining "indebted" to him.  So much of this has been lost, it is good to be reminded that we have "hearts' and that these magnificent and gracious creatures touch it.  

Thanks for giving back to them through your work the recognition and respect they deserve ~ and the opportunity to share it here.

31 May 2014 10:32 PM
alybar

I became a huge fan of Afleet Alex when he was a two year old.  Had he had a better trip in the Derby because he had to check several times, Alex would have been a triple crown winner.  You are lucky you were able to visit Gainesway.  When I tried several years ago, they would not let fans visit with Alex.

31 May 2014 11:11 PM
Windolin

AfleetAlex always one of my favorites. So much courage and the heart of a champion. Tapit just gets more beautiful all the time. He is an awesome sire. Thank you Steve. I just love these articles.

01 Jun 2014 7:32 AM
Giddyup

Excellent blog and photos Steve. I think you questioned the existence of the racing gods in a recent article but anyone who watched Afleet Alex recover from that near disaster in the Preakness has to be convinced that some higher power was watching over him that day.

01 Jun 2014 7:34 AM
Don from PA/DE

Wonderful memories and new background information Steve, two of my favorite race horses for sure, seeing them run so much at Delaware Park and being there to witness their brilliance..everytime I would see Dickinson would ask how Tapit doing, just fine, he would say with a quirky smile, and Afleet Alex, the words "what could have been" just missing the KD win, I know J Rose blames himself for that close loss, but that is a huge story and surprised we don't hear it more with the triple crown talk, king minus in reverse...fasten your seatbelts for next Saturday another story for sure...stay healthy...Don

01 Jun 2014 7:42 AM
Proud Acres

I love that Tapit. Not sure why, but I was never a fan of his when he was running. But he has such a nice hip! Love that look he demonstrates. I was awed when I saw his baby out of Zenyatta. He has such nice babies on the track, I think he'll be a really nice stud for some time.

01 Jun 2014 7:46 AM
Intothebridle

Thanks so much for honoring these two very special horses! From my past posts, I have brought up Alex many times through the years as he is an all time favorite. While visiting Lexington in 2006 inspecting numerous stallions, even though Alex did not fit what we needed on pedigree, he was the very first stallion I visited and it was such a pleasure. I remember his handler mentioning they had hung a rubber ball from the middle of his stall ceiling and in a space this tight, he is so athletic he would kick this ball with both "back" feet! Alex, to me, would have been one of the most worthy TC winners as he, like a certain Cal bred, was clearly the best of his crop of three year olds but too many stops and starts in the Derby thwarted his chance. Was so gratifying to see him redeem himself in such spectacular fashion in the next two races. What a great day visiting him, made even more special being invited to tour the backside of the farm and seeing something that I was unprepared for that choked me up.....all to itself in a pretty little area, the grave of Regret. Steve, I have a photo I would be pleased to share if anyone would like to see. Love the story how the owners were so disappointed when foaled, they did not get a colt, thus the name Regret. And of course, she would not disappoint for long. Same visit visited Tapit and one of his first babies and gave some thought to him given he was standing for only $10K. In hindsight, of course, an incredible bargain but you just never know how these new stallions will turn out and nearly all are failures. Something I loved about the prospects for success with both Alex and Tapit......having been trained by skillful and clean trainers, you could be assured what they accomplished on the track was from their true ability and not enhanced by other means. This same element will make California Chrome a very desirable stallion with a much better chance to succeed in the stallion barn. Sure hope we are in for a long wait to find out but a TC coronation would make it difficult to win enough purse money, even at the highest level, to keep up with his insurance premiums. If anyone would buck this trend, have to think it would be these owners.

01 Jun 2014 9:04 AM
curlinlover

Afleet Alex was unbelievable and should have won the Triple Crown deservedly. But the best Horse doesn't always win. I honored Afleet Alex by naming a beautiful silver Bengal cat after him. Yes, My favorite horse is CURLIN - but closely followed by amazing Afleet Alex!

01 Jun 2014 9:26 AM
Linda in Texas

Lovely way to start a Sunday. You had mentioned you would be highlighting these special friends to all racing fans whether the horses know it or not. Afleet Alex performed that day regaining his stance like no other i have witnessed. How in the world he gathered his thoughts to recover and regain his stride i will never know. And Tapit, what a beautiful gray, you know i love the grays. Both stars seem to be very comfortable with your camera Steve, i would have been shaking had it been me with the camera and every shot is supurb. The photo of the fence where Tapit placed his chin right over his name plate was neat. As if to say, in case you don't know me, my name is Tapit. Thanks so much to Gainesway for allowing our esteemed Editor in Chief to  thousands of fans of horses into the lives of Afleet Alex and Tapit. They have no idea how much they are loved by so many who will never be as close as your were to them. I simply idolize them all. Thank you Steve. I know you must have had a day to remember just being with them. Blue skies, tall shady trees and lush green paddocks along a quaint country path, my wish for both of them always.  

01 Jun 2014 10:36 AM
RamieF

Afleet Alex was clearly the best of his crop and one of the grittiest horses we've been blessed to witness in action. I agree with another poster that he was a deserving Triple Crown winner. The fact that he was on the inside in the Derby and Giacomo and Closing Argument had late momentum on the outside certainly didn't give him a chance to eyeball them and fight back. Despite this obvious disadvantage, he didn't lose by much at all, and we all know what happened in the Preakness and Belmont. It's too bad because he really deserved to be included with the other TC winners, but he will forever be etched in our hearts as a great champion nonetheless. I hope to get the chance to meet him one day. Thanks for the memories Alex!!

01 Jun 2014 10:40 AM
Paseana

Steve, you mentioned something about that Preakness incident that I have always thought as well.  I really believe that Afleet Alex just got mad at Scrappy T for doing what he did.  After his miraculous recovery, he lit off after that horse like a creature possessed!  He was going to give Scrappy T a thumping he'd never forget!  Guess what?  He did!

One other sidebar to this story is what could have happened if Alex HAD gone down (heaven forbid) or if Jeremy had fallen off (also heaven forbid), and assuming that the rest of the field had stayed intact.  Scrappy T would have won the race, and Giacomo would have finished second, but of course Scrappy T would have been DQ'd, giving Giacomo the victory.  That would have set poor little much-maligned Giacomo up to be going for the Triple Crown 3 weeks later, under impossibly controversial circumstances!  Can you imagine the non-stop derision and sniping that poor horse and his connections would have had to endure for 3 weeks?  Thankfully, Afleet Alex and Jeremy Rose, in a remarkable display of courage and heart, spared us from having to live through that!

We owe them a debt of gratitude just for that!

01 Jun 2014 12:09 PM
longtimeracingfan

Methinks Steve qualifies as something more than a general-population fan... especially at Derby time. He was a visiting VIP!!

I so well remember Alex and the little girl with the lemonade stand, always rooted for him because his story and connections were so classy. And always happy to see one of his get doing well. He deserves a long and busy stud career... by the way, I cannot for the life of me understand why so may trainers think works and gallops have to be just sprint lengths. Tim Ritchey and Art Sherman understand the concept of putting "bottom" on a horse--- no, not a big rump, though that may happen as the muscles develop --- but rather a strong deep stamina base that will see them well past a mile or mile and a quarter... not sure how Secretariat's trainer prepped him for the Belmont, especially, but obviously had plenty to work with. The TB world could take a page or three from the eventing world.

Tapit--- what a phenomenon! These two stallions look happy and relaxed and I don't think either one has been shuttled, either. With the great care they get I expect both to be still active into their mid-20s. Maybe I'll even make it to see them <G>.  

01 Jun 2014 1:58 PM
Soldier Course

Slee:

I have that same reaction every time I rewatch Afleet Alex's Preakness. Holding my breath, expecting him to fall to the track. I can still hear Charlsie Cantey ...

01 Jun 2014 2:22 PM
tallulah13

I will go to my grave believing that Afleet Alex should have won the Triple Crown.

While none of his kids have shown his brilliance, I have noticed that his fillies tend to have more success, maybe because they race longer. He's like AP Indy - his kids seem to improve with age.

While I like Tapit, I think he's part of the problem with racing. He can't seem to sire past a mile. It seems contradictory that American racing seems to be trending toward sprinters, even as the most publicized races are classic distance.

01 Jun 2014 2:26 PM
Pedigree Ann

Trackjack - Need I remind you that "The White Tornado" was the nickname of Vigors, who was near white when he was racing, unlike Tapit, who was still pretty grey?

01 Jun 2014 2:36 PM
dance with fate

Thank you Mr. Haskin for the memorable stories and magnificent photos of these great stallions. They are brilliant testimony to the heart and spirit of the thoroughbred.  Also was wondering about Hartford - triumph & tragedy are sadly two sides of the same coin in racing.  

01 Jun 2014 4:34 PM
Susan from VA

I love those horses with Mahmoud in their background - beautiful, sturdy horses.  

01 Jun 2014 4:58 PM
Racingfan

Thanks Steve for another trip behind the scenes.  Great article and beautiful pictures!  Tapit sure has a pretty face and oh how I love the greys!  

Tallulah13 - it is not true that Tapit is siring only horses that win at a mile or less.  Most (if not all) of his best have won over a mile and I believe 4 have won graded stakes at 1 1/4.....

01 Jun 2014 11:12 PM
sceptre

Interesting piece, Steve...Tapit's handler (in your photo) is a great guy; used to work for Greentree.

I have a hard time trying to decipher Hernon's comments about the health of the horse (stallion), referring to Afleet Alex-and his reference to Tesio. Was he implying that Afleet Alex had some health issues after his first season at stud-that impacted on his performance at stud later? Well, I can see where health issues might limit a book, and/or dissuade some from sending him their better mares. But, other than that, and Tesio's comments notwithstanding, a stallion's health issues (or a less than satisfactory appearance) shouldn't have any impact on the QUALITY (genetic makeup) of their sperm. Tesio was undoubtedly a great breeder, but not all of his thoughts/theories were on mark.    

01 Jun 2014 11:27 PM
sceptre

Some may find it interesting that Tapit's gray coat color is the result of a gene that can, for certain, be traced back to Bab, born in 1797.

01 Jun 2014 11:51 PM
smarie

Afleet Alex's near fall in his Preakness had me gasping and had my heart in my throat. I couldn't believe what I was seeing; he recovered and raced on and won! His Belmont was incredible. I was sorry that his racing career ended so abruptly but I was thankful that he was able to go on to a career as a stallion. I've always loved his eyes. They are so expressive.

Thank you Mr. Haskin, for sharing memories and your visit with one of my favorite horses. I loved the photos too.

02 Jun 2014 12:21 AM
captainsmistress

Amen! tallulah13! I'll go to mine too, believing the same. I hate that big KD field. I think it has denied us some TC winners. Alex, the most deserving of all. God, keep all your innocent creations safe next Saturday; see them safely home! Maybe You could give Jr. just a little extra push? Maybe?

02 Jun 2014 1:45 AM
trackjack

Pedigree Ann--Thanks for the reminder of the true "White Tornado."  I was reacting to Steve's striking pics of Tapit.  The first thing that came to mind was a white tornado.  Seeing grays or gray/roans whiten up as they mature has always caught my eye.  Another that comes to mind is Spectacular Bid.  

02 Jun 2014 8:41 AM
threedog

I copied this from NYRA/Bill Nack "Secretariat had a prodigious appetite for hard, fast works, the more the better, and he positively flourished in the grueling regimen that Laurin put him through.  Eight days after the Preakness, he worked three quarters of a mile at Belmont Park in 1:12 1/5, but that was just a prelude to the big move five days later, when Lucien sent him out to rock and roll a mile. He spun these splits like breaking sticks – :23 4/5, :47, 1:11, 1:34 4/5, up in 1:48 3/5. Good grief, what have we here? Over the same track, 4-year-old Tentam had just won the Met mile in 1:35 flat. In a last flourish, Secretariat finished his training with a final move three days before the Belmont: a half mile in :46 3/5." As many others have said Secretariat should never have been beaten.

02 Jun 2014 12:05 PM
Davids

Steve, Tapit's win in the Wood was truly amazing - he shouldn't have won really. Beautiful horse.

02 Jun 2014 5:34 PM
Alex'sBigFan

Man, oh man!  I've been waiting for this article with bated breath!  That's my boy and his story as only Steve could tell it.  And the nostrils were flared out too glaring at Scrappy T!!!  I think Dr. Hogan changed 5 drill bits if I am not mistaken.  I'd know those Afleet eyelids anywhere.  He looks older, a little different than the photo of the young buck I took on his special day on Sept. 10, 2005 at Delaware Park.  I just love this horse as anyone who comes here well knows.  I watched Alex's Derby again and the announcer says at one point a 3-horse photo finish, it was a length or less or a head maybe.  Had he not gotten a bad trip and bumped and maybe felt better (lung infection recurrence) the outcome maybe would have been different.  He still remains to me one of the closest things we have seen to a TC winner.  I loved the connections, trainer, and Jeremy too.  It was another great racing story and another example of a horse that felt and learned the human connection early.  Maggy Hawk wasn't producing milk after Alex was born so the breeder's daughter bottle fed him milk until a nursing mare could be brought in.  There was even a photo of it on "Afleet Alex Home" his official website.  He was one of the first horses with a website as well in 2005.  Tim Ritchey did a phenomenal job with Alex and he was so gracious to me in Delaware.  It's just an amazing story and now Alex needs an offspring that continues where he left off.  I hope he's blessed with one.

Oh, and Tapit.  Yes he looks great too!  Got carried away and almost forgot him!

02 Jun 2014 8:33 PM
Fran Loszynski

Thank you so much Steve for the wonderful article of my champ and Tapit. What an awesome article and pics! Many have said the Triple Crown happened in 2005 with Afleet Alex but circumstances prevailed but Alex's heart lives on! What a great tribute to two of greatest champion racehorses ever, in my book. At this time of the Belmont your article brought tears to my eyes and remember the words of the crowd "Here he comes!" With hugs from kids and cheers in the stands it was truly a Belmont Day. Thank you Steve, Go Alex!Go Jeremy was the call.

03 Jun 2014 9:34 AM
StartedwithSwaps

Great read.  Heartfelt memories to have revived.  Both were magnificent in their own way of the lure & wonderment of the sport.  Afleet Alex has a calm knowingness in his pictures & Tapit's photos are a vision of quiet arrogance.  Really enjoyed your work of exposition.

03 Jun 2014 10:14 AM
Melissa P

I'm sure someone else has already mentioned Alysheba's brush with near disaster. I remember a choked scream emanating from somewhere in my body when Alex almost went down (still don't know how he avoided disaster). Now, he looks like a kind horse. Tapit is magnificent. Another beautiful, almost pure white stallion that he brings to mind is Silver Buck. He was one absolutely stunning stallion with such a refined look. Tapit looks to be a bit more compact. I'm sure he'll continue to be a standout. With the kind of mares he's getting, he can hardly miss.

03 Jun 2014 1:53 PM

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