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Date: July 28, 2005
Preakness and Belmont winner Afleet Alex will miss the Haskell Invitational and Travers Stakes due an injury which will keep him on the sidelines for the summer. On Tuesday morning after training trainer Tim Ritchey watched Afleet Alex cool out and noticed something not quite right with Alex's left-front ankle. X-rays were done right at Belmont Park, although they did not reveal anything, there was a shadow, so Afleet Alex was taken to New Jersey Equine clinic Wednesday afternoon where he was examined by Dr. Patty Hogan.
There it was discovered he had a hairline condylar fracture of the left front, a relatively common type of fracture in Thoroughbred racehorses. It occurs in the bottom of the cannon bone, at the level of the fetlock joint. In Alex's case, it was caught very early, before it had the opportunity to progress into a more significant injury.
After an extensive radiographic examination, Afleet Alex was taken to surgery for a brief procedure under general anesthesia, lasting less than 35 minutes. A single screw was placed across the fracture at the bottom of the cannon bone and it compressed the injury very well. An arthroscopic evaluation of the fetlock joint was also done and the interior of the joint was found to be in excellent shape.
His prognosis for returning to racing at his elite level is excellent and Dr. Hogan expects Afleet Alex's lay-up to be relatively brief. Dr. Hogan will consult with Dr. Larry Bramlage to set up a time-frame that will allow the fracture to heal properly, yet allowing the horse to keep in reasonable physical condition with an eye on a possible return to the races in the fall. This is actually such a hairline type of fracture that she expects healing to be quite swift with the compression afforded by the screw.
Afleet Alex on the track at Pimlico with trainer Tim Ritchey by his side.
Tim Ritchey said it was unfortunate but not career ending. "I look forward to Alex's return to the races," Ritchey said. "The book isn't over, there are still more chapters to be written to this story. As always, the health of the horse is most important.
"I believe he will overcome this bump in the road. With the expertise of Dr. Hogan and the New Jersey Equine Clinic as well as the consultation with one of the most elite vets in the world, Dr. Larry Bramlage, I believe we can formulate a plan that will have Alex back racing at his previous level. I am very appreciative of the care given by Dr. Hogan and her associates."
Tim followed the van to the clinic, unloaded Alex himself and watched the entire procedure. He was at the stall with Alex and when he was up and alert, Tim pulled a peppermint out of his pocket. As soon as Alex heard the crinkle of the paper he came right over.
Chuck Zacney, managing partner of Cash is King said they are obviously disappointed that Alex will not be running in the Haskell or Travers but Alex's health is most important. "He's doing great," Zacney said. "He's gone home and the prognosis looks excellent. We had a great year last year, and we've had a pretty good run this year. We're disappointed, but hopefully he'll be back in training by September." He also indicated that they are still hopeful Afleet Alex can make the Breeders' Cup.
Afleet Alex Data:
Foaling Date: 5-9-2002
Pedigree: Northern Afleet - Maggy Hawk by Hawkster
Dosage Profile: 5-0-9-0-0
Dosage Index/CD: 2.11 0.71 *Dual Qulaifier*
2004 Record: 6 starts 4-2-0 $680,800
2005 Record: 6 starts 4-2-0 $1,485,000 (through the Preakness)
Best Beyer Figure: 108
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