Following the latest set of digital X-rays taken Thursday and a consultation with veterinarian Larry Bramlage, trainer Tim Ritchey was given the OK to bring Afleet Alex to the track Friday for his first jog since undergoing surgery to repair a slight hairline fracture.
"He went to the track and jogged a mile, and he was very happy to get out," Ritchey said of the Northern Afleet
colt. "He had his ears up the whole time and was looking around. He jogged fine, no problems whatsoever. What he'll do is continue to walk two hours a day, four different times, and we'll add a one-mile jog at least for the first five or six days. If everything seems fine, we'll, we'll start to jog him twice a day, one mile each time, and then slowly increase it to where he'll go out early and jog a mile, then go out later and jog two miles.
"After about two weeks, we'll take X-rays again, and he should get the OK to start to gallop. It's not totally healed, but Dr. Bramlage was very pleased with the amount of healing that's taken place the last two weeks. I'd say it's probably 99% healed, and with the little bit of added jogging to his regimen of rehab, that will stimulate the remaining amount of healing. It's a fine line; you don't want to gallop, because that would retard the healing. But the jogging will stimulate that bone a little more, and that should heal it up the remainder of the way."
Ritchey said Dr. Michael Galvin and his assistant took the digital X-rays, which he sent to Bramlage and Dr. Patricia Hogan, who performed to surgery. "I spoke to Dr. Bramlage about 4:30 (Thursday afternoon), and he got back to me, and we worked out the training regimen," Ritchey said. "I just have to monitor his reaction to the jogging and check his joints to make sure he doesn't get any filling. I also spoke to Dr. Hogan and she hadn't received the X-rays I e-mailed last night, but she probably has looked at them by now and will contact Dr. Bramlage."
Before heading back to Belmont, Afleet Alex will parade before the fans at Saratoga Saturday. He will wear a special saddle towel, and will be ridden in the paddock by Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr., then will walk down the stretch. After vanning to Belmont next week, he will take up residence in Barn 12A, which is an annex of trainer Nick Zito's barn.
As for long-range plans, Ritchey said he will let the horse dictate the timing and which races to plan for. "Once he has some long gallops and a couple of breezes, I'll know a lot more," Ritchey said. "It would be an extremely hard task to get to the Breeders' Cup. The only way is if everything goes perfectly and I can find the right prep for him. But I've told the owners, let's just get him back and find a spot. There is always the Cigar Mile (gr. I) at the end of November, then we'll have a lot of races to choose from next year. It should be a fun experience."
Chuck Zacney, managing partner of Cash is King Stable, was delighted to hear the good news. "We are pleased to hear Dr. Bramlage give the OK for Afleet Alex to resume training," he said. "As always, the health of the horse comes first, and we realize this is the first of many steps in getting Alex back to the races."