Afleet Alex 4f :48.40Scheduled to work at Churchill Wednesday (5/4)
Greeley's GalaxyAFLEET ALEX - Cash is King Stable's Afleet Alex completed his major preparation for the 131st Kentucky Derby by working a half-mile in :48.40 under Derby rider Jeremy Rose this morning. Going out after the renovation break, Afleet Alex jogged briefly in the mile chute before making one trip around the track with trainer Tim Ritchey alongside on the pony. Working solo, Afleet Alex was caught in fractions of :13.40, :25.60, :36.80 and out five furlongs in 1:01.40. The move tied for the fourth fastest of 37 at the distance. "It was just what we wanted," Ritchey said. "He started out nice and easy and finished down the lane, which is what we wanted him to do. That's all I needed to do today, kind of an easy maintenance work that should set him up well for the race." It was the second work at Churchill Downs for Afleet Alex since winning the Arkansas Derby (GII) on April 16. He worked a bullet five furlongs in :59 on April 26. "It is good to get this work underneath you," Ritchey said. "Now he will have a few light days and look forward to running Saturday. He will probably go out tomorrow and jog one or two times around, and maybe go twice (to the track) on Thursday and once Friday. Saturday morning, he probably will walk a long time, two or three times and then go to the paddock (for the Derby)." Afleet Alex has six victories and two seconds in nine career starts with the lone off-the-board finish coming in the March 19 Rebel Stakes (GIII) in which he finished last of six in a race in which he ran with a lung infection. "When we detected the problem, I was still very confident that we would go on to the Triple Crown races," Ritchey said. "It is not a major thing. It just affects horses and they don't run their race. It is an easily curable problem. He showed in the Arkansas Derby it was obviously curable. "We scoped him after his first work here and he was fine. We will scope him later today just to be sure, but I don't foresee any problems. I think if he runs his race, he will be right there. I really think he has a legitimate shot."With six starts in graded stakes, three in Grade I's, Afleet Alex has more appearances in U.S. graded events than any prospective starter for Derby 131. "He has been battle tested," Ritchey said. "He has always shown up, except for the one race when he had the lung infection. He's a trier. If somebody beats him, they are going to have to run to beat him." That seasoning is a big plus to Ritchey. "I think it helps a lot," Ritchey said, "but I know just running horses in general, when you get to bigger races, when you have a horse that has been tested, you know what he is and what he is capable of. Some of the horses that are moving way up have got only two or three races in them. Yes, they might have run very well, but now they are looking at a 20-horse field." Ritchey was asked if he thought the mile and a quarter Derby distance would be a problem for Afleet Alex. "I think he'll go two miles," Ritchey said with a laugh. "He trained five miles the other day and was pretty fresh after the second time he came back. I don't understand that (the question about distance), because on his bottom side, there is a ton of distance pedigree. You have Hawaii, Hawkster; mile and a quarter, mile and a half horses. I could never understand that. When we originally bought this horse, one of the reasons I bought him was to have a horse go a distance of ground. He has natural speed, but I think you've got a ton of endurance." MEDIA ADVISORY: Ritchey has requested that media members with questions about Afleet Alex gather each day at 10:15 a.m. (EDT). Afleet Alex is stabled in Barn 41.ANDROMEDA'S HERO/BELLAMY ROAD/HIGH FLY/NOBLE CAUSEWAY/SUN KING - Trainer Nick Zito was back at Churchill Downs Tuesday morning after spending Monday morning at Keeneland to oversee the 25 horses he has stabled there. Among the Keeneland contingent is Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero, who galloped a mile and a half at Keeneland on Tuesday under exercise rider Megan Smillie. The Fusaichi Pegasus colt had worked at Churchill Downs on Thursday and Zito was asked if he was pleased with what he saw Monday after a spate of four days. "He looked fabulous," the two-time Derby winning conditioner said. "He will come back over here Thursday." Rafael Bejarano, who has ridden Andromeda's Hero in three of six starts, picked up the mount Monday when his scheduled Derby call, Consolidator, was retired because of injury. Zito's four Churchill Downs-based hopefuls galloped a mile and a half Tuesday. Carlos Correa was on Bellamy Road, Noble Causeway and Sun King, and Maxine Correa was on High Fly. MEDIA ADVISORY: Zito has requested that media members who wish to discuss his Derby 131 contenders gather each morning for a question-and-answer session beginning at 9:30. His horses are stabled in Barn 36.BANDINI/COIN SILVER/FLOWER ALLEY - Peachtree Stable's Coin Silver had a quietly busy morning Tuesday, the day after his final Derby tune-up as he jogged a mile and a half, schooled in the paddock and stood in the starting gate. Hall of Famer Angel Cordero Jr. was aboard for Tuesday's exercise, and guided Coin Silver through a five furlong work in 1:01 Monday. Bandini and Flower Alley, who breezed on Sunday morning in 1:00.80 and 1:00.60, respectively, just walked under the shedrow Tuesday. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he is happy with the way his team is coming up to Kentucky Derby 131. "This is the strongest group of horses I've ever brought to the Derby, and I think all three are coming up to the race at the peak of their careers," the trainer said. "I'm confident that all three horses will get the trip. They have the breeding and the talent to do well here." Bandini, owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, has made five lifetime starts, winning the Blue Grass most recently. Melnyk Racing Stables' Flower Alley has had just four career outings, with a victory in the Lane's End Stakes and a second in the Arkansas Derby. "I think that's the way it's going - fewer starts before the Derby and more time between starts," Pletcher said. Of the three, Coin Silver came out the earliest, running in a maiden event at Belmont last July. He wasn't seen again until January at Gulfstream, and broke his maiden when stretched out to nine furlongs in March. Since then he has raced twice, earning his Derby berth with a victory in the Lexington Stakes 10 days ago. "Coin Silver came around early and started early because he was ready," Pletcher said. "I wasn't concerned when he lost his first two starts, because I knew he wasn't a sprinter. I always thought he needed more distance to do his best." Bandini, a son of 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, did not make his first start until late November last year and broke his maiden in his 3-year-old debut in January. "Bandini has always been impressive looking," Pletcher said. "When he first came to the track, you had to like him because he looked like a racehorse. We tried to follow the same map they used with his father to get him to the Derby." Flower Alley will wear blinkers for the first time Saturday, a change of equipment Pletcher feels is for the best. "He's a colt that just needs to focus," the trainer said, "and the blinkers will help him do that." In the Derby, John Velazquez has the mount on Bandini, Pat Valenzuela rides Coin Silver, and Jorge Chavez will be aboard Flower Alley.BUZZARDS BAY - Santa Anita Derby winner Buzzards Bay emerged from his six-furlong Monday workout in "great" style, said trainer Jeff Mullins from his barn at Santa Anita Park this morning. Buzzards Bay, who won the Santa Anita Derby at odds of 30-1, drilled a bullet 1:11.40 under jockey Mark Guidry Monday at Santa Anita and walked under the shed this morning. He's scheduled to be shipped to Louisville on an early flight out of Ontario Airport Wednesday. Mullins said the Fog City Stable colt will be on the track at Churchill Downs Thursday morning to go through his usual routine, jogging a mile and then galloping a mile and one-half. For the third straight year, Mullins will be running the Santa Anita Derby winner in the Kentucky Derby. Buddy Gil was sixth to Funny Cide two years ago and Castledale finished 14th behind Smarty Jones last spring.CLOSING ARGUMENT - The Successful Appeal colt who represents trainer Kiaran McLaughlin's first Kentucky Derby starter just walked under the shedrow Tuesday morning, the day after breezing five furlongs in 1:01. "He came out of the work just fine," McLaughlin said, "and he'll gallop up to the Derby. He's doing really well here."With six starts in graded stakes, three in Grade I's, Afleet Alex has more appearances in U.S. graded events than any prospective starter for Derby 131. "He has been battle tested," Ritchey said. "He has always shown up, except for the one race when he had the lung infection. He's a trier. If somebody beats him, they are going to have to run to beat him." That seasoning is a big plus to Ritchey. "I think it helps a lot," Ritchey said, "but I know just running horses in general, when you get to bigger races, when you have a horse that has been tested, you know what he is and what he is capable of. Some of the horses that are moving way up have got only two or three races in them. Yes, they might have run very well, but now they are looking at a 20-horse field." Ritchey was asked if he thought the mile and a quarter Derby distance would be a problem for Afleet Alex. "I think he'll go two miles," Ritchey said with a laugh. "He trained five miles the other day and was pretty fresh after the second time he came back. I don't understand that (the question about distance), because on his bottom side, there is a ton of distance pedigree. You have Hawaii, Hawkster; mile and a quarter, mile and a half horses. I could never understand that. When we originally bought this horse, one of the reasons I bought him was to have a horse go a distance of ground. He has natural speed, but I think you've got a ton of endurance." MEDIA ADVISORY: Ritchey has requested that media members with questions about Afleet Alex gather each day at 10:15 a.m. (EDT). Afleet Alex is stabled in Barn 41.HIGH LIMIT - Blue Grass Stakes runner-up High Limit went to the track this morning after the renovation break to have his usual mile and one-half gallop under Jose Cuevas for trainer Bobby Frankel. High Limit, an easy winner of the Louisiana Derby, is slated for a half-mile breeze after the break Wednesday morning under jockey Joe Deegan. Whereas High Limit worked in company, with stablemate and Horse of the Year Ghostzapper, April 28, Wednesday he will be alone.SORT IT OUT - After breezing a half-mile in :47.20 Monday, Sort It Out's activity this morning was limited to walking under trainer Bob Baffert's shedrow at Barn 33. The son of Out of Place, who is certain to be a big longshot despite his trainer's three-victory record of success in the Kentucky Derby, will return to the track Wednesday morning to jog. Brice Blanc has the mount on Sort It Out, who is owned by the Stonerside Stable of Janice and Robert McNair and the Preferred Pals Stable, which is a partnership headed by attorney Larry Paltrowitz. Sort It Out earned his way into the 131st Kentucky Derby with a runner-up effort behind Coin Silver in the Lexington Stakes April 23 at Keeneland.SPANISH CHESTNUT - The colt by Horse Chestnut galloped a mile and a half at Keeneland under exercise rider Rodolph Brisset Tuesday morning. Spanish Chestnut, owned by Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, who also have Bandini in the Derby, had his final Derby prep at Churchill Downs Sunday when he breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40. He will remain at Keeneland until Saturday morning, shipping to Churchill Downs just hours before the Derby. "It is the same as I did with Lion Heart last year," Biancone said of the colt who finished second behind Smarty Jones in the 2004 Derby. The trainer said Spanish Chestnut is doing well in the quiet confines of Keeneland and is coming up to the race in good order. Joe Bravo, who won last year's Haskell Invitational aboard Lion Heart, has the mount on Spanish Chestnut.WILKO - With horse and trainer well rested after arriving from California late Sunday night, Wilko got his first look at the Churchill Downs strip Tuesday morning. The Awesome Again colt galloped a mile and a half under exercise rider Sergio Martin in what trainer Craig Dollase termed a "sightseeing tour." "We just let him go along easy and look around," Dollase said. "He's settled in and doing well here." Wilko, owned by J. Paul Reddam and Susan Roy, will try to become the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner to score in the Kentucky Derby. Dollase took over the colt's training from Jeremy Noseda after that Lone Star Park race. Under his care, Wilko has run third in the Hollywood Futurity and Santa Anita Derby and fourth in the San Felipe. Corey Nakatani, who has ridden him twice before, has the mount Saturday.