05/21/2005 11:00PM

Afleet Alex fine after Preakness

Afleet Alex (right) recovers after colliding with Scrappy T to win the Preakness by 4 3/4 lengths. Derby winner Giacomo was third.

BALTIMORE - Except for a minor scrape on the back of his left front ankle, Afleet Alex on Sunday appeared to have emerged unscathed from his remarkable victory in the on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.

"He's lucky. He just took the skin off. I don't think it'll be a problem," said his trainer, Tim Ritchey.

Afleet Alex nearly fell at the top of the stretch in the Preakness when Scrappy T veered suddenly into his path, causing Afleet Alex to clip heels and stumble badly. Ritchey theorizes that in Afleet Alex's wild scramble to keep his feet, Afleet Alex nicked his left front leg with the hoof of his left rear leg.

Ritchey, a native of Pittsburgh and a passionate Steelers fan, said Afleet Alex's recovery in the race was miraculous, and likened it to Franco Harris catching a last-ditch pass for a touchdown in a playoff game against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 23, 1972.

"That was the immaculate reception. What should we call this, the immaculate recovery?" he said.

Ritchey said Afleet Alex would remain at Pimlico for the next several days before heading straight to Belmont Park to prepare for the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

"I had planned to ship on Wednesday, but I'll wait an extra day or two and probably go on Friday," Ritchey said. "I want to monitor him for muscle injuries. Right now, he's fine. But his body was contorted in way it wasn't meant to be."

Giacomo, the Kentucky Derby winner who finished third in the Preakness, flew back to California on Sunday. His trainer, John Shirreffs, was unsure if Giacomo would run in the Belmont, but owner Jerry Moss was eager to try again.

Others possible for the Belmont Stakes include Andromeda's Hero, Buzzard's Bay, Pinpoint, Shamoan, Southern Africa, and runners who could emerge from this Saturday's Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.