A deal to sell the breeding rights to Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont (gr. I) winner Afleet Alex is in the works and is expected to be finalized shortly, J.J. Graci, publicist for owner Cash is King Stable, told The Blood-Horse Friday.Graci confirmed that one of the farms in the running is Castleton Lyons in Lexington, Ky. He did not name any of the other potential bidders.Graci also emphasized that Afleet Alex definitely will race as a 4-year-old."The sale is for the breeding rights only," Graci said. "Chuck (managing partner Chuck Zacney) was emphatic that Alex will race next year under Cash is King Stable. The deal will not be done today or tomorrow, and no price has been determined. But it will happen."Jamie Lamonica, who handles stallion acquisitions for Castleton Lyons, said Friday afternoon he could not comment on a potential deal that several bloodstock experts believe will be valued at $20 million or higher.Afleet Alex has been recuperating from a slight hairline fracture, and was given the OK last week to resume galloping by Dr. Larry Bramlage. The son of Northern Afleet out of the Hawkster mare Maggy Hawk is scheduled to have his first work early next week, and could return to the races shortly thereafter. Trainer Tim Ritchey said Afleet Alex has been nominated to a number of stakes, but the colt's next start has not been determined.Afleet Alex, who was bred in Florida by John Martin Silvertand, was purchased by Ritchey for Cash is King at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale at Timonium for $75,000. The colt was the first horse raced by the Cash is King partnership, which consists of Zacney, Joe Lerro, Joe Judge, Jennifer Reeves, and Bob Brittingham.Castleton Lyons, purchased by Dr. Tony Ryan in late 2001, is a historic Central Kentucky property best known as the home to the Standardbred industry's once-powerful Castleton Farm. It was originally a Thoroughbred operation when it was established in the late 18th century.
Ryan, a native of Ireland who built his financial empire by developing Europe's first low-cost airline, Ryanair (built on the same model as Southwest Airlines in the U.S.), has meticulously restored and renovated the property. In February 2004, the Castleton Lyons breeding shed opened, and the farm currently stands four stallions: Bernstein, Malibu Moon, Action This Day, and Toccet. The farm was among those which hotly pursued Smarty Jones, last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness winner who was retired to stud at Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky.