August 24, 2010

A Travers Miracle

Time for a little multiple choice, ZATT style: Which one of these outlandish statements is true?

A) One of our Triple Crown winners entered the Kentucky Derby 0 for 6.
B) A Hungarian race mare retired undefeated … after 54 starts.
C) The 1981 Horse of the Year was kidnapped at stud and never found.
D) A three-year-old colt will attempt to win the Travers after only one start.

A bit of a trick question, as the answer is all of the above. Yes, in 1919 Sir Barton swept the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont after losing all six starts before the Run for the Roses. Native Hungarian Kincsem, won each of her 54 starts in the late 1870’s throughout Europe. Shergar, Europe’s Horse of the Year and 10 length winner of the Epsom Derby, was kidnapped a little over a year after gong to stud in Ireland. The crime was never solved and the horse was never found. Amazing and true stories that are part of racing’s lore.

On Saturday, Admiral Alex will try to add his name to the fantastic stories of racing’s rich history, when he runs in Saratoga‘s $1 million Travers Stakes. While many far more accomplished horses are still straddling the fence on whether or not to run, such is not the case for the recent maiden winner Admiral Alex. He has his connections confident that the colt belongs in the race and is in with a chance. And his connections are not a couple neophytes. Owner/Trainer Leon Blusiewicz has been training horses for some 37 years, while rider Kent Desormeaux won last year’s Travers, as well as, six triple crown races.

Who is this horse who has his connections so excited after only one start? Admiral Alex made his one and only start in a Maiden Special Weight on July 31 at Saratoga. He won the 1 1/8 mile race by one length in a time of 1:49.76. That’s it, that’s the entire recap of his racing career.

In fairness, Blusiewicz has liked and talked about Admiral Alex for a long time. Several setbacks had delayed the expected debut of the chestnut colt for a full year, but now everything seems to be finally coming together for him. Admiral Alex is called the best horse he has ever trained by Blusiewicz. Probably hyperbole, but it was a statement that caught my attention, especially since I loved one of his good ones. Willa on the Move was one of my favorites and a grade 1 winner for Blusiewicz in the late 80’s. Clearly his trainer thinks he is a special horse, how about his world class jockey?

More of the same, as Kent Desormeaux is also touting the horse whom he works in the mornings, and was aboard for his only start. Desormeaux has gone as far as to say that he will be very disappointed if Admiral Alex doesn’t win. Strong words indeed. Should we really take the word of these experienced horsemen and expect a colt who has run only once in his career to actually run big in the Travers?

My guess is Admiral Alex will be up against it on Saturday, but one thing I have learned in watching a lifetime worth of horse races, is never say never. What if Blusiewicz and Desormeaux are right and the son of Afleet Alex runs a big race, or what if, dare I say, he somehow manages to hit the wire first. What a story that would be, a Travers miracle … stranger things have happened.


Anonymous said...

Interesting story, maybe.

Chance to win, none.

Anonymous said...

Wow all very intresting, I love the history of horse racing, will you post Admirals 1st start?

Brian Zipse said...

A link for a video of the first race of Admiral Alex is below:

Silent Sunday said...

A neat and intriguing twist to the race for sure. With all the fairytales the last couple of years in would not totally shock me if he won....though I doubt he will.

LDP said...


Who so very happily helpped you find the link to the race??? lol. Though I owed you since you mentioned him to me first.

He is one impressive looking horse and I thought he won the race pretty easily. I do think he is up against it, but as you said, never say never.

Kimness said...

A Hungarian horse raced 54 time undefeated? WOW!!! Thanks for the history lesson!

Admiral Alex ran like a pro in his first start. Nice looking colt & I LOVE Afleet Alex - He may not win in this tough field, but stranger things have happened. I hope he does!

Thanks for posting that link Brian -it has THE NOZ's race too!!
(not sure if it's the name, but I like The Noz!)