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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Afleet Alex, Giacomo get set for Belmont Park showdown

New York Daily News

NEW YORK – As Preakness winner Afleet Alex was making himself at home at Belmont Park, Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo put in his final workout before his cross-country journey for Saturday’s $1 million Belmont Stakes.

For the first time in the past four years, there is no possibility of a horse sweeping the Triple Crown, but in the absence of a potential coronation, there is a showdown between the winners of the first two jewels.

Giacomo followed up his 50-1 shocker in the Derby with a third-place finish in the Preakness. The gray colt is scheduled to travel to New York on Wednesday.

Giacomo worked six furlongs in 1:144/5 at Hollywood Park, the home base for his trainer, John Shirreffs.

“He went out there with his regular workmate, Bullistic, and he did what we wanted,” Shirreffs said.

Afleet Alex, who arrived at Belmont Park from Pimlico late Saturday afternoon, had his customary two-a-day on Sunday. Afleet Alex was third in the Derby but won the Preakness despite a near-disastrous stumble at the head of the stretch when he clipped heels with Scrappy T, who veered out suddenly in front of the surging Afleet Alex.

“He jogged a mile and a half and he galloped a mile and a half (with exercise rider Salomon Diego),” trainer Tim Ritchey said. “He’s doing great.”

Afleet Alex arrived at Belmont later than planned due to a suspected outbreak of strangles. Tests on the horse in question, Lady Libby, proved negative.

Nick Zito, who won last year’s Belmont with Birdstone, said over the weekend he would add a third starter, Indy Storm, to his previously announced pair of Andromeda’s Hero and Pinpoint.

Southern Africa, winner of the Lone Star Derby, breezed six furlongs in 1:13 at Arlington Park on Sunday. He would become the first runner for trainer Michael Puhich in a Triple Crown race.

The Belmont field could swell to as many as 11 by the time entries are taken Wednesday.