Afleet Alex, the 2-year-old colt who amuses himself by playing with a blue rubber ball suspended in his stall at Lone Star Park, showed his affinity for the Grand Prairie track Monday when he zipped five furlongs in :58 2/5. The time was the fastest among eight horses on the work card at that distance as the Northern Afleet
colt continued his preparations for Saturday's Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
With exercise rider Sam Cabrera aboard, Afleet Alex was timed in fractions of :23 2/5 and :46 2/5 for the first quarter-mile and half-mile, respectively, and he galloped out six furlongs in 1:11 2/5 over the fast track.
"He did it on his own," Cabrera said. "It is something special to have a horse like this. He does it all by himself. I am just there to guide him."
"It was a little faster than we wanted, but he did very easily," said trainer Tim Ritchey, who will be saddling his first horse in a Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships race.
Racing for Cash Is King Stable (Chuck Zacney, managing partner), Afleet Alex won his first four starts, including the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and Sanford (gr. II), before his win streak ended with a second-place finish as the favorite in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I).
Bred in Florida by John Martin Silvertand, Afleet Alex was produced from the Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk.
While he is all business on the track, Afleet Alex is easily bored and entertains himself by playing with a rubber ball suspended from the center of his stall.
Assistant trainer Roque Romero said the colt has had a rubber ball to play with ever since early in his racing career when he would keep himself occupied by turning over the feed and water buckets. Now, when he is in his stall, Afleet Alex bumps the ball with his head, his form of entertainment.
To illustrate the extent to which the rubber ball is part of Afleet Alex's daily regimen, Romero said the colt hung his head out of the stall door and did not appear to be himself. Initially after arriving with the colt last Tuesday, Romero and Cabrera could not figure out how to safely suspend the rubber ball. But that dilemma was solved last Thursday and the colt has been himself ever since, as evidenced by his quick workout Monday.