Afleet Alex Looks Good in Final Derby Prep

Afleet Alex Looks Good in Final Derby Prep
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Afleet Alex, in his final Kentucky Derby workout Tuesday.
Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Afleet Alex was the only contender for Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) to put in his final workout Tuesday, and the son of Northern Afleet   again showed his fitness by breezing a half-mile in :48 2/5 at Churchill Downs.

The time was the best among 16 horses working the distance Tuesday.

With jockey Jeremy Rose aboard, Afleet Alex worked in fractions of :13 2/5, :25 3/5, and :36 4/5. Following the work, he galloped out five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 in what trainer Tim Ritchey said was a maintenance work that took place following the break in training to allow the track maintenance crew to rework the surface.

"It was very easy," Ritchey said. "It should set him up perfectly. He works like that all the time. He is very athletic."

The trainer said Afleet Alex will jog once Wednesday, go to the track twice Thursday, once Friday and "walk a lot on Saturday." He also said a veterinarian would conduct an endoscopic exam Tuesday, but "doesn't expect to find anything."

Ritchey said the unusual ritual of having Afleet Alex gallop twice a day is simple: to keep the horse happy. "All I have to do is keep him happy, and that's why he goes out twice a day. You get that from studying your horse, which I'm sure every trainer has been doing with their horse."

Ritchey said he is sticking jockey Rose, who has ridden Afleet Alex in eight of his nine starts and all of his victories, although he could have the services of higher-profile riders. "The thing he has is the utmost confidence in the horse. You have to remember he's made all that $1.3 million with Jeremy on him."

Tuesday's work was the second good showing by Afleet Alex over the Churchill surface. One week ago, the colt zipped five furlongs in :59, the fastest of 29 horses working the distance and a full 1 2/5 seconds faster than the second-fastest work.

The earner of more than $1.3 million gleaned from six wins and two seconds in nine starts, Afleet Alex is the likely Derby second choice.

Ritchey said his colt is ready. "He does his job. He is very professional. He is battle tested and to beat him you will have to run with him."

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