Afleet Alex, impressive in Tuesday workout at Churchill Downs.

Afleet Alex, impressive in Tuesday workout at Churchill Downs.

Anne M. Eberhardt

'Alex' Impresses in Morning Workout

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).

The move, in fractions of :12 2/5, :24, :35 2/5, and :46 3/5, with a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:12 2/5, pleased trainer Tim Ritchey and jockey Jeremy Rose.

The move was the fastest of 29 horses working the distance Tuesday and a full 1 2/5 seconds faster than the second-fastest work. But Ritchey and Rose agreed it wasn't unusually fast and was a typical work for the son of Northern Afleet  who races in the colors of Cash Is King Stable.

"Everything was exactly what we wanted," Ritchey said. "He started out easy and finished up well. He does it easy. He has a nice fluid action. He really was not breathing that hard (after the work). He is a fit horse. We have him right where we want him and just need to keep him together for the next two weeks."

With the likelihood of 19 or 20 starters in the Derby, Ritchey said he believes there will be sufficient early speed in the race to set it up for Afleet Alex to stalk the early pace before making his move.

"You can get him to relax but he also has natural speed," Ritchey explained.

"The work was perfect," Rose said. "This is the way he works every time. He is the fastest--the coolest horse. He is an iron horse. He is so athletic."

Rose agreed with Ritchey's assessment of how the Derby could set up for Alex to win. The goal will be to have the colt relaxed at first and then unleash his speed when needed.

"You can put him wherever you want, and when a hole opens, he can get there before anyone knows he's there," Rose said.

With the forecast rain holding off until mid-morning, the breeze by Afleet Alex was the only workout at Churchill by a Derby contender.