Texas Red: In the grand tradition of Afleet Alex

November 10, 2014 05:02pm

 

In the short amount of time it took for Texas Red to zoom from last to a commanding first in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the son of Afleet Alex skyrocketed to the top of 2015 Kentucky Derby lists everywhere. The 6 ½ length victory, in our most important race for two-year-olds, was an eye-opener, demonstrating both current talent and future potential. He may not have collected the early wins that Afleet Alex did, but like his Preakness and Belmont Stakes winning sire, Texas Red has been a consistent two-year-old performer, while building himself a solid juvenile foundation for the rigors of next year’s Triple Crown push.

 


Afleet Alex ran well in all of his two-year-old starts, and finished his juvenile season with an excellent record of 6-4-2-0. More precocious than his Breeders’ Cup winning son, the champion three-year-old of 2005 got out of the gates fast winning his first four races, including a maiden sprint and an allowance sprint at Delaware Park in his initial two runs.

 


Texas Red, meanwhile, does not look like the type of horse who will excel sprinting. Still, his two tries at sprint distances were enough to give promise for his future. A fast closing, near miss at Arlington Park concluded his career debut with a runner-up finish. Three weeks later, and across the country, he made up a bunch of ground in the stretch to finish 4th in a Del Mar maiden. It marked the first time Hall of Fame rider, Kent Desormeaux rode Texas Red for his training brother, Keith.

 


Ten years earlier, Afleet Alex quickly transitioned from those first two wins in the Blue Hen State into a graded stakes winner at Saratoga. A romping win in the Grade 2 Sanford for trainer Tim Ritchey announced his substantial talents to the world. In his fourth start, Afleet Alex foreshadowed things to come with a gritty and brave victory in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes.

 


Texas Red also made his fourth start his initial Grade 1 stakes try, but first he still needed to take care of his maiden status in start number three. That proved to be little problem as the bay colt, owned by a partnership which includes his trainer, Keith Desormeaux, made a big move heading into the far turn and scored a facile victory in his first try around two turns. Next, his rallying third in the Grade 1 FrontRunner never threatened the other division leader, American Pharoah, but it went a long way in confirming his abilty to make up ground every time, while also demonstrating that he could run with the best of his crop.

 


Unlike Texas Red, Afleet Alex had a fifth start before the BC Juvenile, suffering his first career blemish when a game second in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. He would run another game effort to close out his juvenile season in the big test at Lone Star Park, but could not hold off the late rush of the European long shot, Wilko, and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup.

 


By now, we are all familiar with Texas Red’s powerful run to the money at Santa Anita for the Desormeaux brothers in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

 

Afleet Alex took his excellent juvenile form a few steps farther and entered the Kentucky Derby as the second choice. He ran big too, but his strong move into a fast pace may have cost him, and he finished a good third, beaten only a length. With a Triple Crown sweep off the board, Afleet Alex quickly proved to be the best of his crop with a dominating win in the Belmont, which followed his unforgettable victory in the 2005 Preakness ...

 

Is Texas Red a Kentucky Derby horse? There is little doubt about that. If healthy, he will be in the Churchill Downs starting gate in just under six months. A romping and rallying win in America’s most important race for two-year-olds being proof positive that he deserves to be one of the 20 horses running for the roses next spring. The real question is whether he can remain healthy and continue to progress like his famous father did.


As one of the finest Triple Crown performers of the 21st century, Texas Red obviously will have his hooves full in attempting to approach the heights reached by Afleet Alex, but after last Saturday, he looks to at least be on the same track. He’s consistent, and he gives the impression of being a horse who can handle the classic distances found in the Triple Crown. He’s also already done something that his sire was unable to do, in winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. 

 

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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