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.Coming back from a lung infection that stopped him to a virtual walk as the public favorite in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III) on March 19, the 3-year-old son of Northern Afleet displayed the speed that made him one of the finalists for Eclipse Award consideration at the end of the 2004 season.Afleet Alex got underway in a moderate :12.3, for the opening furlong, but then kicked in the afterburners, getting the quarter in :24.2, the three furlongs in :35 and the half mile in :46.1. He was up through five furlongs in :58.3.Entries for the Arkansas Derby will be taken Wednesday morning, with a field of 11 or 12 for the 1 1/8-mile feature on Saturday's closing day card. Afleet Alex is also nominated for the $75,000 Northern Spur Breeders' Cup Stakes at a mile on the Saturday program."He did it easily," said trainer Ritchey, "It was just a maintenance work. He's fine."Asked about a jockey for the Derby, Ritchey said, "I haven't decided yet. I should know later today.""I gave him one little kiss at the five-sixteenths pole to ask him to finish," jockey Jeremy Rose said of the workout. "And he did."
"He came out of the work perfect," noted veterinarian Dr. William Hawk, who first diagnosed the lung infection following the Rebel Stakes.