Andromeda's Hero comes in second

Updated: June 12, 2005, 12:09 AM ET
By Mike Farrell | Associated Press

NEW YORK - Trainer Nick Zito had the numbers in this year's Triple Crown with 11 starters, including a record-tying five in the Kentucky Derby.

The newest member of thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame was winless in the series, but he finally hit the board when Andromeda's Hero ran second to Afleet Alex in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Zito targeted the Belmont for Andromeda's Hero after the colt passed eight horses in the Derby to finish a distant eighth behind winner Giacomo.

Zito's 2005 Triple Crown finishes
Kentucky Derby
7th - Bellamy Road
8th - Andromeda's Hero
10th - High Fly
14th - Noble Causeway
15th - Sun King
4th - Sun King
6th - Noble Causeway
10th - High Fly
Belmont Stakes
2nd - Andromeda's Hero
4th - Indy Storm
11th - Pinpoint

- Associated Press

Once again, Andromeda's' Hero made a late move.

"I stayed comfortable in a good position," jockey Rafael Bejarano said. "I was trying to stay close to Afleet Alex. When he moved, I followed him. My horse starting running strong but Afleet Alex just ran away."

Zito was satisfied to finish behind the dominant Preakness and Belmont winner.

"It's an honor to be second to this great horse," Zito said of Afleet Alex. "Without him in the race, we win the Belmont Stakes. My horse just ran great."

It marked the second time Andromeda's Hero hit the board in a major 3-year-old stakes. He was third in the Arkansas Derby.

Zito had two other runners in the Belmont. Indy Storm finished fourth and Pinpoint, the early pacesetter, was last in the 11-horse field.

The maiden gets third
The decision by trainer Dale Romans and owners Sarah and Kenneth Ramsey to run Nolan's Cat in the Belmont raised some eyebrows.

After all the colt was a maiden, a racetrack term for a horse that has never won a race.

Romans said before the race that his horse, beaten in all five starts, would love the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont.

Nolan's Cat proved him right as he rallied to finish third.

"He's the best maiden in the country," Romans said. "It's going to be hard to pick a spot for him because he likes these longer races."

The second longest shot in the race was the trailer through the first mile. Norberto Arroyo, Jr. urged his horse on for the in-the-money finish in the Grade I race.

"He really liked the distance," Arroyo said. "I knew there would be a lot of horses stopping going a mile-and-a-half. I just let him relax the first part and started moving up little by little."

Attendance drops
The absence of a Triple Crown bid hurt Belmont Park at the turnstiles.

The Belmont attracted 62,274, failing to crack the 100,000 mark for the first time in four years. A Triple Crown was on the line at the last three Belmonts.

The crowd of 120,139 last year for Smarty Jones' failed Triple Crown bid was a New York racing record.

"We were very fortunate to have a Triple Crown the last three years," said Bill Nader, New York Racing Association senior vice president. "It's hard to say we are disappointed. We put on the best card we could and were lucky to have the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner in the Belmont for the final chapter."

Bowl changes hands
The Belmont Stakes trophy has a new home for the next year.

The solid silver bowl and cover crafted by Tiffany & Co. was presented to the Cash is King Stable to hold until the next Belmont.

The trophy cover features the figure of 1869 Belmont winner Finian. It was the trophy August Belmont received when Finian won the third running of the race. It remained in the Belmont family until they donated it as the race trophy.

Preakness/Belmont double
Afleet Alex became the 18th horse to win the Preakness and the Belmont aside from the Triple Crown winners.

Afleet Alex, who was third in the Kentucky Derby, joined Bimelech (1940), Capot (1949), Native Dancer (1953), Nashua (1955), Damascus (1967) and Risen Star (1988) as horses who finished in-the-money in the Derby before taking the last two jewels of the Triple Crown.

What's next for Alex
Tim Ritchey, Afleet Alex's trainer, said two $1 million races will be the next targets: the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 7, and the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 27.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press