Afleet Alex favored at Belmont
Thu., June 9, 2005
NEW YORK – Preakness winner Afleet Alex was made the 6-5 favorite Wednesday for the Belmont Stakes, while Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo was the second choice at 4-1.
A field of 11 3-year-olds was entered for Saturday’s final leg of the Triple Crown, with Afleet Alex attempting to become the 18th horse to complete the Preakness-Belmont double.
The 1 1/2 -mile Belmont will be run without a Triple Crown on the line for the first time in four years and for the third time in nine.
Afleet Alex, who won the Preakness by 4 3/4 lengths despite nearly falling after clipping heels with Scrappy T at the top of the stretch, drew the No. 9 post. Only three horses have won the Belmont from the No. 9 gate since 1905, the most recent being Point Given in 2001.
Giacomo, expected to arrive at Belmont Park from California on Wednesday, drew the No. 5 post, a spot trainer John Shirreffs had hoped for because his gray colt will start in the “middle of the track.”
Giacomo, with Mike Smith aboard, will try to become the 12th horse to win the Derby and Belmont.
The only other horse in the field who ran in either the Derby or Preakness is Andromeda’s Hero. One of three colts entered by trainer Nick Zito, Andromeda’s Hero was eighth in the Derby and was 15-1 on the morning line.
Afleet Alex trainer Tim Ritchey said his colt is coming into the race in top form, and expects another strong ride from jockey Jeremy Rose.
“I have complete confidence in Jeremy and he has complete confidence in Alex,” Ritchey said. “I don’t see any problems at all.”
Reverberate, who finished second in the Peter Pan Stakes on May 28, was the third choice at 6-1.
Chekhov and Southern Africa were the following selections, both at 12-1.
Three horses were at 20-1 – A.P. Arrow, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, and Indy Storm and Pinpoint, Zito’s other two entries.
Watchmon and Nolan’s Cat were 50-1. Nolan’s Cat is winless in five starts.
Post time Saturday is 3:38 p.m. PDT.
The winner’s share of the $1 million purse is $650,000.
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