Tim Ritchey still has designs on making a run at the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) with his dual classic winner Afleet Alex, and he plans on working the 3-year-old colt after the break Friday morning at Belmont Park.
Last Friday, the son of Northern Afleet
worked five furlongs in :59 4/5 and Ritchey was pleased with the move. "He's a special horse," Ritchey told an NTRA teleconference audience. "After his work he was not blowing harder than I thought he would have after a routine gallop."
On the conference call, Ritchey said Cash is King's Afleet Alex was "50-50 right now" to make the Oct. 29 Classic, but he needs to have a solid work and get in a prep race.
"I'll be looking for something the weekend of (Oct.) 14-15-16," he said of a prep race. "He needs one more decent work and a prep race that's not too stressful, but one that would get him really race-fit."
He mentioned he had four or five options, including the seven-furlong Perryville Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland Oct. 14. "The distance is perfect," Ritchey said. "It's for straight 3-year-olds. It's at the top of my list, but again, we'll have to see how he works Friday. If he goes, we'll probably fly him in (to Lexington)."
If Afleet Alex is to make the Classic, he'll likely face a deep cast of older horses for the first time that includes three-time grade I winner Saint Liam
, Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Borrego, and Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) winner Rock Hard Ten. All three older stars, along with Afleet Alex, are among the top contenders for Horse of the Year.
"If we can get to the Classic and win it, he's got a good shot to be Horse of the Year," Ritchey said of his sophomore. "Even if he runs well in the Classic, he could still be Horse of the Year."
Ritchey also noted that Afleet Alex probably will be cross-entered in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) for the World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park. "The Mile turf is an option," he said. "It will depend of the level of fitness after his next breeze. If he runs like I expect he'll run, I'll be confident about the Classic."
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.
Even if Afleet Alex doesn't make the Classic, he'll likely still return to racing this year, according to Ritchey.
"There's the Cigar Mile, the Clark Handicap...there are two or three significant races," he said. "There's a turf race in Southern California. In the future, he'll have to fly to a lot of different places."
As for a reported stallion deal for Afleet Alex, Ritchey emphasized "there is no deal pending right now--nothing in writing, on paper, or signed. If there is a deal, it will be just for breeding rights--Cash is King plans on racing him for the rest of his career...and I hope that may be a year away."