Hall of Fame horse Afleet has died at Breeders Stallion Station in Japan at age 30
No horse had more of an impact on Canadian racing in 1987 than Afleet, a flashy 3-year-old colt who was named Horse of the Year. Owned and bred by Rick Kennedy of Toronto, the regally-bred colt was trained by 2013 CHRHF inductee Phil England and was by champion sire Mr. Prospector and out of Polite Lady, who won a Sovereign Award as champion broodmare in 1988.
Unraced as a 2-year-old, Afleet gained considerable fame when he captured the prestigious Jerome Stakes at Belmont Park. Afleet accomplished the feat in impressive style as he was clocked in 1:33 4/5th for the mile, the second fastest time in the race’s 117-year history. Afleet then went on to trounce millionaire Lost Code in the Pennsylvania Derby and was beaten a nose in the Meadowlands Cup in New Jersey. In his final start he fared poorly, finishing 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Hollywood.
His 3-year-old season began at Woodbine when he broke his maiden by 10 lengths. A week later he won the Friar Rock Stakes. His march to the Queen’s Plate was impressive as he won the Queenston and Plate Trial Stakes and was sent off as the odds-on favorite for the Plate. Afleet took command in the turn for home, but the mile and one-quarter distance was perhaps too much for him as he was unable to withstand the late charge of Market Control and finished second. The colt won six of 10 starts.
At four Afleet was a contender every time he stepped onto the track for owners Rick Kennedy and Taylor Made Farm of Lexington, Ky. He won the Toboggan Handicap at Aqueduct, was second in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont, runner-up in the Carter Handicap at Aqueduct, third in the $1 Million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs and third in the Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs. Up against champion sprinter Gulch and Canada’s champion sprinter Play The King, Afleet’s chances of winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint were hindered as he broke slowly and was jostled. He was 12th in the 13-horse field with two furlongs to run. In the stretch he made a valiant charge along the rail to finish a game third by less than two lengths.
Afleet was retired to stud in 1989 at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky. He won seven of 15 starts and was out of the money only twice. At stud he sired 16 graded stake winners and 46 black-type winners. His greatest money winner has been Golden Jack, a filly who earned $2.8 million in Japan. Other starters in Japan who’ve earned more than a million include Preeminence and Primo Ordine. Afleet has also sired five Breeders’ Cup starters in Northern Afleet, the sire of 2005 Preakness and Belmont champion Afleet Alex, Big Sky Chester, Top Secret, Flat Fleet Feet and Balisian Beauty.
He will be remembered and missed by many including CHRHF Planning Committee member, trainer Reade Baker of Reade Baker Racing Stable, Inc who said that Afleet was the most important racehorse in his life. Reade was racing manager for Mr. Kennedy during Afleet’s racing career and was instrumental in placing Afleet at Taylor Made Sales as their debut stallion.