06/15/2005 11:00PM

Afleet Alex to stay for the summer

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Belmont Stakes star Afleet Alex is now expected to stay stabled at Belmont till meet's end.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It appears Afleet Alex will be calling New York home this summer.

Afleet Alex, whose smashing Belmont Stakes victory a week ago followed his acrobatic Preakness score, is one of 12 horses trainer Tim Ritchey is expected to stable at Belmont for the remainder of this meet. Belmont's meet runs through July 24.

The New York Racing Association is working on getting Barn 18 ready for Ritchey's horses. Provided Ritchey is happy with the setup, he said he would send "a mixture of young and old horses" to Belmont for the remainder of the meet.

"As of right now, that's the most likely scenario," Ritchey said Thursday from Delaware Park.

Afleet Alex remains in Barn 5, where he has been stabled since the middle of Belmont Stakes week. On Wednesday, Afleet Alex jogged one mile and galloped 1 1/2 miles over the main track. On Thursday, Afleet Alex did the same, but did it over the training track. He was forced to go to the training track because the main track was closed for a while when a horse broke down.

"He's good," Ritchey said of Afleet Alex.

Ritchey, who plans to return to Belmont early next week, is still pointing Afleet Alex to the Haskell on Aug. 7 at Monmouth Park, and then the Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 27.

Among the horses Ritchey could have at Belmont is Kelsey's Treasure, a 3-year-old filly who has won her first two starts impressively. Kelsey's Treasure is a possible starter in the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes here on July 9.

NYRA raises purses for claiming races

NYRA, beset by a lack of entries this spring, has raised the purses for several claiming divisions to make Belmont more competitive with tracks such as Monmouth Park and Delaware Park. The purse increases take effect Saturday.

In claiming divisions from $14,000 to $30,000, purses will increase by $5,000 a race; in claiming races with tags over $30,000 to $50,000, purses will increase by $4,000; in claiming races with tags over $50,000 to $60,000, purses will increase by $3,000; in claiming races over $60,000 to $70,000, purses will increase by $2,000; and over $75,000 to $80,000, purses will increase by $1,000.

In some categories, Belmont was offering less money than Monmouth and Delaware.

"These increases will help to provide a better product for our fans and adjust our purse structure to give a more equitable distribution to owners and trainers of claiming horses," said Mike Lakow, NYRA's racing secretary/handicapper.

Slew Motion right back

Slew Motion, who won the Dancin Renee Stakes by four lengths on Wednesday, is entered back in Saturday's $60,000 Meadow Star Stakes. The Meadow Star, run at six furlongs, is for 3-year-old fillies who have not won an open stakes. The Dancin Renee was restricted to New York-breds. The connections of Slew Motion had to pay a $100 supplemental fee to run.

This race should be tougher for Slew Motion with the likes of Exit to Heaven and Exploivacious in the field. Exit to Heaven finished two lengths behind Slew Motion when those fillies were second and third in the Nassau County. The two were at equal weights in that race. This time, Slew Motion must concede six pounds to Exit to Heaven.

Exploivacious, a daughter of Exploit, is coming off a solid allowance win over this track on May 29. Partners Due finished second in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness. Dynamo Hum finished second in the Park Avenue division of the New York Stallion Stakes.

Letgomyecho in foal to Elusive Quality

Letgomyecho, who won the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream Park in March, has been retired and is in foal to Elusive Quality, trainer Rusty Arnold said Thursday.

Letgomyecho, a daughter of Menifee, fractured the sesamoid bone in her left foreleg while finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Ashland in April, Arnold said. She retired with 3 wins from 4 starts and career earnings of $136,200 for Dixiana Stables Inc.

"She was the best horse I had since Victory Ride," Arnold said, referring to the 2001 Test Stakes winner. "She just was talented. She really, really was, and I thought her best was in front of her."

Two horses die during training

Two horses died during training hours on Thursday.

Lucky Darling, a 4-year-old New York-bred filly, suffered an apparent heart attack at the conclusion of a five-furlong workout over the main track. Lucky Darling fell down about a furlong past the wire. The main track had to be closed for several minutes while the horse was attended to.

Bruce Levine trained Lucky Darling, who had a record of 0-2-0 from five starts.

A little while later, on the training track, an unnamed 3-year-old colt by Exploit stumbled and fell and may have broken his neck. He had to be euthanized on the track. Phil Serpe trained the unraced colt.

* Oratory, the Peter Pan winner, drilled five furlongs in 59.67 seconds Thursday morning over Belmont's main track. It was the fastest of 17 works at the distance. Oratory could be a candidate for either the Dwyer on July 4 or the Jim Dandy on July 30.

* Edgar Prado rode four winners on Thursday's card and now has a meet-leading 46 victories, 18 more than Richard Migliore in second. John Velazquez, who has won the riding title at this meet the last four years, has 27 wins.