Trainer Tim Ritchey said Tuesday that Preakness and Belmont (both gr. I) winner Afleet Alex's fracture is healing nicely, but with an extra week of walking prescribed, there is a question whether the colt can make the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Classic-Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
"Dr. (Larry) Bramlage came on Friday and we did the digital X-rays again and it showed the healing is taking place," Ritchey said. "We decided we would rather err on the conservative side by giving him two more weeks of walking instead of one more week, which we had originally hoped to do. Dr. Bramlage thought two more weeks would be the best way to do it, because (the hairline fracture) hadn't healed completely, although there was a lot of healing that did take place. You could see on the X-rays, the majority of the crack has filled in; you can tell by the color difference. But there's no point in jeopardizing his whole career over one week.
"It's unfortunate that it's this time of the year, and we'd only have six or seven weeks to get him ready for the Classic, but, there's always a shot if he comes out of it well and he's training good, I can run him short and then be able to evaluate where he is.
"We'll walk him two more weeks, four times a day, half an hour each time. That's going to make it a lot harder obviously to get to the Classic. It will depend basically on how much fitness he's lost. It's been quite a while, so I assume he's lost a fair amount. But after we get him back to the track and start to jog and gallop him, I'll be able to have a better idea. He's a natural athlete, so he'll be able to come back a little quicker than a lot of horses. After everything is completely, healed, it will be my job to decide just how fit he is and how quickly we go along with him."
Even if they miss the Breeders' Cup, Ritchey said he'd like to get a few races in the son of Northern Afleet
at the end of the year to carry him into his 4-year-old campaign.
"There are still other races out there," he said. "I've spoken to the owners (Cash is King Stable), and the main thing is keeping him healthy and sound and getting him back to the races at the end of the year and next year. The thinking is, if we don't get to the Breeders' Cup this year, maybe we can get there next year. I think it's important for him to come back and run at least one or two more times this year and kind of validate his whole 3-year-old year. And the way the older horse division is going, even if he comes back and just beats 3-year-olds, I still think he has a shot to be Horse of the Year."