By Evan I. Hammonds - There have been some gaudy numbers put up over the last couple of weekends by horses and humans alike. Some add spice to the coming Kentucky Derby (gr. I); some show a renewed vigor in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
Tuesday's activity can be pretty much summed up in two words: Afleet Alex -- with the emphasis on Afleet. Working over a loose track that was playing on the slow side, Alex blazed his five furlongs in :59, with several others getting him in :58 3/5.
Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Afleet Alex displayed his affinity for the track at Churchill Downs when he zipped five furlongs in :59 Tuesday morning in preparation for the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
As a budding athlete in grade school, Tim Ritchey recalls, he did "two-a-day" drills as a member of the football team. Now, Ritchey is applying those lessons learned at a young age, along with lessons learned as a trainer of show horses and a healthy dose of what he calls "common sense," in his training of Afleet Alex, one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
As a road trip to Louisville, Ky. for the Kentucky Derby rekindles memories of Smarty Jones' 2004 journey, there are also omens pointing to Afleet Alex as another Triple Crown Trail success story out of Philadelphia Park.
Boy, has this Kentucky Derby (gr. I) picture changed. Suddenly, it's the year of the routs. So, what do you do when you have final Derby preps won by 17 1/2, 9 1/2, 8, and 6 lengths?
Trainer Tim Ritchey announced Tuesday that Jeremy Rose will ride Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Afleet Alex in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) May 7. Rose has ridden Afleet Alex in every race but one, winning six of his eight starts aboard the colt.
Victory by Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) pushed the Northern Afleet colt to the top of the list of Kentucky Derby contenders by graded stakes earnings.
Afleet Alex gave Oaklawn Park its second major contender for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in as many years with his smashing win Saturday in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II).
Favored Afleet Alex bounced back from the worst race of his career, a last-place finish in the Rebel (gr. III) a month ago, to win the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II) as much the best Saturday before 71,010 at Oaklawn Park.
A field of 10 was entered for Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and although two of the "Big Three" stabled at Oaklawn this winter will run, it is not quite what the Hot Springs track had envisioned.
As trainer Tim Ritchey watched aboard the stable pony Tuesday morning, Afleet Alex signaled that he is ready for Saturday's $1-million Arkansas Derby (gr. II), zipping through a fast half-mile workout at Oaklawn Park.
With less than four weeks until the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Godolphin Racing's Blues and Royals, winner of the UAE Derby (UAE-II) on the Dubai World Cup card, is still on top of the list of Derby contenders by graded stakes earnings.
Rick Porter, owner of Rockport Harbor, said that although the colt is doing much better after suffering his third setback of the year, he is 50-50 at best to make the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II), and that the April 23 Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland appears to be the more likely spot at this time."
Cash is King Stable managing partner Chuck Zacney, co-owner of Afleet Alex, announced Tuesday he has accepted Dan Borislow's $50,000 challenge matching Borislow's Wild Desert against Afleet Alex and Rockport Harbor in a horse-against-horse showdown in the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II).
Patrick Valenzuela has been named to ride Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Wild Desert in the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II), majority owner Dan Borislow said Monday. If Wild Desert runs well enough at Oaklawn to merit a trip to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Valenzuela will remain aboard.
So, where are the best 3-year-olds based? Florida, Arkansas, California, and New York can all make a case for being the hot spot right now following Saturday's stirring and strange turn of events. With Declan's Moon and now Roman Ruler out of the picture, and Afleet Alex and Wilko facing uphill battles, last year's top 2-year-olds are fading fast.
It was a big night for the connections of Southern Image at the March 20 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association annual awards dinner. Southern Image was named Florida-bred horse of the year and champion older horse, while his sire, Halo's Image, who stands at Arthur I. Appleton's Bridlewood Farm, was named sire of the year.
Afleet Alex, who finished last as the 3-5 favorite in Saturday's Rebel (gr. III), was scoped following the race and found to be suffering from a lung infection. Trainer Tim Ritchey said the colt is still being pointed for the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II).
Lewis Lakin's Greater Good rallied from well off the pace to collar runaway pacesetter Rockport Harbor for a half-length victory in the $250,000 Rebel (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park.
The March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park promises to deliver some major fireworks when Afleet Alex, Rockport Harbor, and Greater Good lock horns in the 1 1/16-mile race, which drew a field of six.
Saturday's $250,000 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., will be televised on ESPNEWS at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Bettors across North America settled on "all others" as the lukewarm favorite when Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' 2005 Kentucky Derby Future Wager ended its four-day run on Sunday evening.
Just when it looked as if Rockport Harbor's luck had run out and he'd be unable to make the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III), trainer John Servis, while still cautious, said the foot looked much better Sunday.
Cash Is King Stable's Afleet Alex and Harry Aleo's unbeaten Lost In The Fog emerged as the favorites at the midway point of Pool 2 of Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby Future Wager following the defection of the injured Declan's Moon.
The Kentucky Derby (gr. I) picture finally cleared up a bit last Saturday as Declan's Moon and Afleet Alex returned in grand style and Nick Zito put the finishing touches on his powerful four-horse Derby package, all of whom are coming off impressive victories. But the weekend's events still left us with several questions.
The second of three pools in the 2005 Kentucky Derby Future Wager will open four days of betting with co-favorites in unbeaten juvenile champion Declan's Moon and the mutuel field, the wagering interest that includes all 3-year-olds other than the 23 individual horses in the March 10-13 pool.
Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex will make his 3-year-old debut in the Saturday's Mountain Valley Stakes, going six furlongs at Oaklawn Park.
The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association has announced the eight divisional Florida-bred champions for 2004. The award winners will be honored at the 45th Annual FTBOA awards dinner March 20, at Hilton Ocala in Ocala, Fla. The Florida breeder, horse, stallion and broodmare of the year award recipients will be announced March 20.
Fox Hill Farm's undefeated Rockport Harbor served notice that he is fully recovered from the foot bruise suffered last week by working seven furlongs at Oaklawn Park Friday in 1:27 2/5 over a fast track as he progresses toward his 3-year-old debut in the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III).
Cash Is King Stable's Afleet Alex, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and runner-up in the voting for 2-year-old champion, had his first work of the year at Oaklawn Park Wednesday, drilling a sharp half in :47 flat with jockey Jeremy Rose aboard. It was the second fastest of 40 works at the distance.
Trainer Tim Ritchey confirmed Monday morning that Afleet Alex, runner-up for the 2-year-old championship, will have his first work of his 3-year-old season later this week at Oaklawn Park.
The most accomplished stars of this year's crop of 3-year-olds--including 2-year-old champion Declan's Moon, 2-year-old filly champion Sweet Catomine, and Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Wilko--are among the 24 wagering interests in the first of three 2005 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools scheduled for Feb. 10-13.
A year after a record three colts shared top weight on the Experimental Free Handicap, this time around the lead is shared by two.
Even though folks are aware the future book is normally a bad bet, with good horses priced way too low, some still can't help taking the plunge. So, here's a look at what's out there.
Whether or not he wins an Eclipse Award as top 2-year-old male of 2004, Afleet Alex has his fans as he prepares to embark on his 3-year-old campaign.
"Too fast to last." That is an old slogan that racing fans hope does not ring true in 2005. If it doesn't, then we're in for a memorable winter and spring on the road to the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), as a legion of brilliant young horses across the country prepare to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Leading rider John Velazquez has been named to replace Jeremy Rose aboard Cash is King's Afleet Alex, a candidate for an Eclipse Award as top 2-year-old male, in his quest for the 2005 Kentucky Derby.
Wilko, who had won just two of 10 starts in Europe, beat the best 2-year-old colts at Lone Star Park Saturday at odds of 28-1, winning the $1.5 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Fog City Stable's Roman Ruler, who is only a neck away from being four-for-four in his career, was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite in a field of eight for the $1.5-million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park.
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.
Roses in May, hoping to cap off an undefeated season in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), and John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf hopeful Kitten's Joy were among seven Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships candidates on a flight that arrived into Dallas late Tuesday afternoon from New York and Kentucky.
Trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed that Champagne (gr. I) winner Proud Accolade would make his next start in the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Lone Star Park.
Unbeaten Proud Accolade, ridden confidently in his stakes debut by John Velazquez, dealt heavy favorite Afleet Alex his first loss with a half-length victory in the $500,000 Champagne (gr. I) for 2-year-olds at Belmont Park Saturday.
Hopeful (gr. I) and Sanford Stakes (gr. II) winner Afleet Alex hopes to keep his record unblemished Saturday as he takes on seven of his fellow 2-year-old brethren in the 133rd running of the $500,000 Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Afleet Alex had to work harder than in his previous three starts, be he remained unbeaten Saturday with a victory in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.
Afleet Alex, who has won his three lifetime starts by a combined 28 1/2 lengths, heads a field of seven juveniles in Saturday's Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. It is the 100th running of the historic stakes.
With three victories in three starts, and a combined winning margin of 28 1/2 lengths, Afleet Alex heads into Saturday's Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) with great promise.
The unbeaten Afleet Alex, who demolished a deep field in Saratoga's Sanford (gr. II) on the second day of the meet, breezed a 'bullet' half-mile over a muddy track at Delaware Park this morning in :46 2/5.
Highlights of this week's report from Saratoga: Redemption for Lukas and Azeri...Anniversary of an historic Travers... No spa visit for Actxecutive... Stamina in the Family of Afleet Alex... Sir Shackleton, Zito's Sleeper.
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