Afleet Alex took a tremendous step forward in his comeback bid Friday morning by working a half-mile in :46 flat over the main track at Belmont Park.
Two private clockers recorded the work in :45 4/5. Afleet Alex's regular rider, Jeremy Rose, was aboard. The 3-year-old son of Northern Afleet
jogged with a pony from the half-mile pole to the mile pole, then was let loose at the mile pole and he "two-minute" licked to the half-mile pole. Trainer Tim Ritchey was aboard the pony.
"Last week was just to see where we were fitness-wise and this was just to see where we were endurance-wise," Ritchey said after the work. "Jeremy's agent clocked him from the mile pole to the half-mile pole in 1:02, which means he actually went a mile in 1:48."
"This is exactly what I wanted to see," he said. "He pulled up good. He was walking well and didn't take a deep breath. So we're right on track. We'll be extremely, specially careful to make sure everything is alright, but I don't anticipate any problems."
Last week, Afleet Alex worked five furlongs in :59 4/5.
"This work was to get some air in his lungs," Rose said afterward. "We ran to the pole a lot more than last time just to make sure it was a consistent work. This was a lot stronger than his last work. I let him run the last half-mile and he seemed to enjoy it. He was really picking it up in the stretch."
Ritchey has said previously that he'd like to run Cash is King's dual-classic winner in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I). The Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships will be held Oct. 29 at Belmont Park.
Ritchey has also stated he needs to get a prep race into Afleet Alex.
"We'll probably re-X-ray him right before he runs," Ritchey said. "We're looking at the Perryville Stakes at Keeneland. There is also the Vinnie Moscarelli at Delaware Park."
The Perrryville is an about-seven-furlong grade III stakes for 3-year-olds Oct. 14. The Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial Handicap is a six-furlong stakes for 3-year-olds and up Oct. 15.
"My personal opinion is that he's as fit and strong as I've ever seen him," Rose said. "He's an amazing animal. You may never see a horse who has done the things he's done."
Afleet Alex has not started since his seven-length romp in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 11. He had surgery to mend a hairline fracture July 27.
A winner of eight of 12 career starts, Afleet Alex has earned $2,765,800 for the Cash is King racing syndicate.