Afleet Alex, the only contender for the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) currently at Pimlico, went out onto the main track twice Saturday morning.
The son of Northern Afleet
jogged two miles just before 6 a.m. and, after cooling out and eating breakfast, went back out just after 8 a.m. He jogged a mile, turned around, galloped a mile and a half, and jogged back another half-mile with exercise rider Salamon Diego. Trainer Tim Ritchey plans to send "Alex" out once on Sunday and Tuesday, twice on Monday and Wednesday, and to visit the starting gate prior to the Preakness.
"He will not breeze before the Preakness. I want to keep him just a little sharper," said Ritchey. "You have to remain focused in the mornings, whether you are at the Breeders' Cup, the Derby, or here at the Preakness. In the afternoons, you can step back and consider where you are and what you've achieved and enjoy the whole experience. He's the star of our show, and we're all supporting actors and have to do our part in order to have him shine."
The only other Preakness contender prepping in Maryland is new shooter Malibu Moonshine. The Malibu Moon
gelding worked three furlongs at Laurel Park this morning in :36 2/5 and galloped out a half-mile. The King Leatherbury trainee won the Miracle Wood, Private Terms, and Tesio Stakes this spring.
"He was nice and relaxed. It was a fluent work," said Steve Hamilton, who worked Malibu Moonshine and who will be back aboard on Saturday. "I'm excited. The Preakness is like the Super Bowl. It is every rider's dream to have a Triple Crown mount. I don't think he'll have any problem getting the distance, and he's won over the course. I think he has a shot."
Trainer Barry Rose reported from Florida on the status of Unbridled Stakes winner Hal's Image. Rose said, "Hal's Image is doing very well. He just worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 4/5 and came back great." Regular rider Carlos Olivero was aboard for the work. "He's scheduled to arrive via van early Wednesday morning."
Derby runner-up Closing Argument is training in New York. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "He continues to do very well. Today, we galloped him a mile and jogged him 1-3/8 miles. He might have an easy work on Monday, depending on the weather situation.
"Despite his speed-oriented blood lines, he's not built like a sprinter. He's medium sized and quite well balanced. From day one, he's been a straightforward, classy horse."
Nick Zito reports High Fly (10th), Noble Causeway (14th), and Sun King (15th) will work at Churchill Downs Monday before a decision will be made on who will get on the Tex Sutton charter next Wednesday for a date in the middle jewel. Zito's lone Preakness victory came in 1996 when Louis Quatorze bounced back from a 16th place finish in the Derby for a Preakness victory in record time.