12/12/2005 1:00AM

Afleet Alex going to Gainesway

Afleet Alex, here winning the 2005 Preakness Stakes, will begin his stud career at Graham Beck's Gainesway Farm in 2006.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - This year's likely 3-year-old champion, , will begin his stud career at Graham Beck's Gainesway Farm in Lexington. He will stand for $40,000 in 2006.

The 2005 Preakness and Belmont winner also has a new owner in Stonestreet Stables' Jess Jackson, who recently bought a major interest in the colt. Afleet Alex had been campaigned by Cash Is King Stable, a partnership headed by Chuck Zacney. Zacney would not disclose Jackson's exact share in Afleet Alex and said only that the colt would stand at stud as the property of Jackson, Cash Is King, and Gainesway.

Jackson offered Cash Is King about $3 million to buy the colt after his Sanford Stakes win in his third start, according to Zacney. The partnership turned Jackson down then.

"We were having too much fun, and we didn't know any better," Zacney said Monday. "If we had been in the game 10 years and experienced all the ups and downs, we probably would have done it."

Afleet Alex was scheduled to arrive at Gainesway on Dec. 13.

Zacney said that Gainesway was the second farm the ownership team visited.

"It's very beautiful, and you could see the detail they showed for everything," he said. "Marion Gross, the stallion manager, really impressed us. They took the time to show us their whole program. We visited a lot of farms and talked to a lot of people, but we just had a real comfort zone with Gainesway."

Afleet Alex, by Northern Afleet out of the Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk, was retired earlier this month. He had been sidelined since the Belmont with a hairline fracture.

Cash Is King purchased Afleet Alex as a 2-year-old at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic juvenile sale in 2004 for $75,000. He was the partnership's first purchase. Trained by Tim Ritchey, the colt won 4 of his 6 starts at age 2, most notably the Hopeful, and finished second behind eventual champion Wilko in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. His 2-year-old season stamped him an immediate leading contender for the 2005 Triple Crown campaign, and he went on to capture two legs of that series after finishing third in Giacomo's Kentucky Derby.

Afleet Alex will be best remembered for his courageous Preakness performance, in which he came back to win the race by 4 3/4 lengths after a collision with Scrappy T brought him to his knees. He followed that win with a seven-length score in the Belmont. His popular appearances at the races also aided the charity Alex's Lemonade Stand, which funds research into pediatric cancer. A percentage of Afleet Alex's earnings went to the charity, which also set up fundraising stands at tracks when the horse ran.

Veterinarians discovered a hairline fracture soon after the Belmont. Hoping to make it to the Breeders' Cup Classic, Ritchey and Cash Is King later attempted to bring the colt back. They retired him early this month, however, after veterinary exams revealed degeneration of bone in his left foreleg, a problem veterinarians believed could have caused the initial hairline fracture.

Afleet Alex retired with a record of 8-2-1 from 12 starts and $2,765,800 in earnings.

"Now we're ready for a ride on the stallion side," Zacney said, adding that Cash Is King plans to buy some mares to support Afleet Alex at stud.