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.Trainer Tim Ritchey will use the Mountain Valley as a prep for the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III) before moving on to the April 16 Arkansas Derby (gr. II). The ultimate goal for the son of Northern Afleet is the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.The Rebel is contested at 1 1/16 miles, the Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles, and the Kentucky Derby at 1 1/4 miles. "His last breeze (1:13 3/5 for six furlongs) showed me he was ready to run and this race was always in the back of my mind" Ritchey said. "The Mountain Valley is exactly two weeks from the Rebel so the timing is perfect". Managing partner of Cash is King Stable Chuck Zacney, said, "We look forward to the start of his 2005 campaign. This race is a good stepping stone on the road to the first Saturday in May".Afleet Alex will face five rivals in the Mountain Valley, breaking from post five under rider Jeremy Rose. Eclipse Award winning jockey John Velazquez will have the mount in all future races.Among Afleet Alex's competitors in the Mountain Valley are two sons of Concorde's Tune--Rocky River, winner of Arlington's Spectacular Bid Stakes last year, and Razor, winner of Oaklawn's Dixieland Stakes on opening day.
Field for the Mountain Valley Stakes: Post position--Horse, weight, jockey 1 -- Dr. Meatball, 117, Calvin H. Borel 2 -- Rocky River, 119, Terry J. Thompson 3 -- Razor, 119, Roman Chapa 4 -- Sir Laff Alot, 119, John McKee 5 -- Afleet Alex, 122, Jeremy Rose 6 -- Smoke Smoke Smoke, 117, Seth B. Martinez