Afleet Alex, who won the Preakness Stakes this spring in spectacular fashion after nearly falling at the top of the stretch and then went on to take the Belmont Stakes by seven lengths, has been retired, trainer Tim Ritchey announced.
The 4-year-old colt hadn't raced since winning the final leg of the Triple Crown on June 11 in New York. He suffered a hairline condylar fracture of the left front cannon bone in July preparing for the Haskell Invitational and had an operation in which a screw was inserted into the bone. He briefly returned to training, turning in powerful workouts in preparation for a run in either the Breeders' Cup Classic or the Cigar Mile, neither of which he participated in.
Ritchey shipped Afleet Alex, who finishes with career earnings of $2,765,800 and eight wins, two seconds and a third in 12 starts, on Monday to Gulfstream Park to begin training for a possible run in the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic on Jan. 28 in California. Instead, a "wedge" of bone in the back of the ankle near the site of the original injury was discovered in a xeroradiograph taken by Patricia Hogan at the New Jersey Equine Clinic. The trainer then made the decision to retire the horse.
"Obviously, had we seen it earlier, we would have gone in a completely different direction and not even attempted to bring him back," Ritchey said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. "An intelligent guess is that the injury started with the Preakness. It was something we hadn't seen, and it will take too long to heal, and he has to go on to his second career."
-- John Scheinman