Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex, winner of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), breezed five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 at Pimlico Wednesday in preparation for the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). At this point, the colt is expected to arrive in New York on Saturday.
The son of Northern Afleet
was clocked in fractions of :14, :26 2/5, :38, and :49 4/5 for the half mile. He was caught galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 2/5, pulling up seven panels in 1:29.
"He came out of it well and cooled out perfect," trainer Tim Ritchey said. "We scoped him 45 minutes after the work and he scoped clean as can be. Our plan was to start out easy and let him finish strong. It was a maintenance breeze to make sure everything's good with him. After watching that and how he came back, I think we are in good shape."
Ritchey had originally planned on vanning to Belmont last Saturday, but decided against it after a suspected case of strangles was discovered.
"I'd like to have gotten him to Belmont earlier, because, just like I did here, I wanted to get him over that track as many times as possible," Ritchey said. "But with the suspected strangles there, I was unable to. I didn't want to put his health at risk and would never do that. It's actually been very good at Pimlico, because we're the only ones in the whole barn. It's laid back and he's been able to relax, more so than if he had been at Belmont with all the media attention.
"We just have to work with what we've got. Hopefully, I'll be able to ship on Saturday. From what they tell me, it should be OK. I'll train him Saturday morning, get him all done up, then we'll ship there and arrive about 4 or 5 o'clock. They're just waiting for the tests to come back on some horses who were in the same barn as the horse with the suspected case of strangles. From what they're telling me, they're going to put all the horses shipping in for the Belmont in one barn all by themselves, so everybody is away from everybody else. They've been cleaning the barn and disinfecting everything from top to bottom, so I'm sure they'll have everything under control."
Afleet Alex and jockey Jeremy Rose narrowly escaped disaster in the Preakness after clipping heels with Scrappy T at the head of the stretch and almost going down. Alex made an amazing recovery, and without missing a beat, went on to score an impressive 4 3/4-length victory.
"He'll live in history after that race and he deserves it," said Rose. "That race will be shown for two decades. I don't know how to explain it. There was an unbelievable amount of fear. Obviously we wanted to get come back on our feet and not get run over by anyone. He lost maybe a half-length on Scrappy T and that's it. It was one of those things that you had to be on his back to understand how scary it is."
The Belmont at this point looks to be a showdown between Afleet Alex and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) Giacomo, with several others with solid credentials also pointing for the 1 1/2-mile race.
"None of them really scare me," Rose said. "All are very nice horses, very accomplished horses. They have to be to run in this race, but as long as Alex is under me, he does the talking. He just does what he does and pretty much silences everybody, especially after the Preakness. Now they are saying he can't go a mile and a half. Do you think it would have mattered in that race? If it were a mile and a half, how many more would we have won by?"