09/29/2005 11:00PM

Afleet Alex works like a Classic colt

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Afleet Alex works five furlongs in 59.85 on Friday at Belmont under regular rider Jeremy Rose. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.39.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It took less than a New York minute for the realization to set in that Afleet Alex can actually make the Breeders' Cup Classic.

In his first workout since undergoing surgery two months ago to repair a fractured left front cannon bone, Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex went five furlongs in 59.85 seconds Friday morning over Belmont Park's main track. It was the fastest of eight works at the distance.

Working from the half-mile pole under regular rider Jeremy Rose, Afleet Alex was timed in fractions of 13.08 seconds and 24.84, and hit the finish line in 48.30 seconds. Rose threw a couple of crosses at Afleet Alex, who worked another furlong in 11.55 seconds. He was clocked galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.39.

"He went a little better than I thought, he showed a little more speed," said trainer Tim Ritchey, who accompanied Afleet Alex to the half-mile pole astride his stable pony. "I told Jeremy to go between 48 and 49 and if everything feels good then shake the reins at him a little bit and let him go out five-eighths. He was actually going stronger at the end than he was at the beginning. The best part was how he came back and cooled out. Walking back he really wasn't even taking a deep breath."

Rose, who drove up from Delaware Friday morning, said he was impressed with Afleet Alex's fitness level.

"He felt as good as he ever has," Rose said. "Two-year-old, 3-year-old, that's as best as I've ever felt him underneath me."

Ritchey, Rose, and owner Chuck Zacney - who drove up from Philadelphia with his wife, Carol, to watch the work - said it is better than 50-50 that Afleet Alex can make the Classic. He would most likely have a prep race two weeks before. Among the options are the $200,000 Perryville Stakes at seven furlongs on Oct. 14 at Keeneland, and the $100,000 Vincent Moscarelli Stakes, a six-furlong race at Delaware Park on Oct. 15.

"It's a matter of how far I want to run him two weeks before the Breeders' Cup," Ritchey said. "I'll just have to look at who's in the races, where they are, the stress factor, see how he's doing at the time."

If Friday's work was an indication, Afleet Alex is doing very well. Ritchey's unorthodox training regimen, which paid huge dividends during the Triple Crown, seems to be working again. During the time Afleet Alex was recovering from surgery, he would walk up to 2 1/2 hours a day in 30-minute intervals. After a little jogging, Afleet Alex began galloping on Sept. 16. He has been going to the track twice a day - as he did during the Triple Crown - for the last two weeks.

"All those walking miles, a half-hour at a time, five times a day, and the three-mile jogs and the two-a-days have obviously helped him maintain a lot of fitness that he wouldn't have maintained if we hadn't done that," Ritchey said. "It moves us forward more than I would have even anticipated. He's probably fit enough that we could run him short next week if we wanted to. But he'll come back and have another work and then we'll try and look for a race two weeks before the Breeders' Cup."

Though Ritchey said he could nominate Afleet Alex to the Mile or the Sprint, he tabbed the Classic as his race of choice. Aside from Saint Liam, Ritchey is somewhat skeptical of the depth of the Classic field.

"It's a race where you got Saint Liam, who's a very, very good horse, and then you got some other horses that may be very good horses, but they got to prove something," Ritchey said. "Where some of the other races you have four or five horses that all have very competitive shots, the Classic will probably have one or two horses that will be the horses to beat in the race."

Ritchey to separate juveniles

Choosing a comeback race for Afleet Alex isn't the only decision confronting Ritchey. He must decide this week where to send his trio of talented juvenile colts as he hopes to get one or more to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

In Dixiewink, Kid Lemonade, and Menacing, Ritchey has three horses for three spots. Ritchey said he's likely to run Dixiewink in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, send Kid Lemonade to the $400,000 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, and Menacing to the $100,000 Dover Stakes at Delaware Park. All three races are next Saturday.

Kid Lemonade has won 2 of his 3 starts around two turns and comes off a second-place finish to the highly regarded Superfly in the Whirling Ash Stakes at Delaware Park on Sept. 17. The Lane's End is a two-turn race.

Ritchey believes Dixiewink is better suited to one turn, which makes him a candidate to run in the Champagne. Dixiewink finished a well-beaten third in the Grade 2 Futurity, but Ritchey said he came out of that race with a lung infection.

Menacing won his maiden by 5 1/4 lengths at Delaware Park in his only start, a two-turn mile race on Sept. 17.

The Dover is run at 1 1/16 miles around two turns.

Long time between drinks

Whiskey Park returned from almost a two-year layoff to win the first race Friday at Belmont. The 6-year-old extended his winning streak to two with the previous victory coming at Belmont on Oct. 8, 2003.

"He's a horse that we always liked," Pletcher said. "It was nice to get him back and he ran very well."

The horse was sidelined with foot and ankle problems, and Pletcher credits his father, Jake, with nursing Whiskey Park back to health.

"My dad had him down in Ocala and turned him out for a while," Pletcher said. "We started back on him one time and he wasn't doing so well so we stopped on him again. He said this time coming back, he was doing better."

Yes Yes Yes cross-entered

Pletcher is hedging his bet with Yes Yes Yes.

A smashing winner in an off-the-turf allowance race at Saratoga last time out, Yes Yes Yes is entered Saturday in the $100,000 Gallant Bob Handicap at Philadelphia Park where he drew the outside post in the 11-horse field of 3-year-olds going six furlongs. Yes Yes Yes is also in the $65,000 Trippi Stakes Sunday at Belmont.

"We haven't decided yet," Pletcher said Friday. "I have to talk to Barry Irwin [president of Team Valor Stable] and see what he wants to do."

The Trippi, also for 3-year-olds at six furlongs, is an easier spot, as the race is restricted to horses who have never won a stakes.

Yes Yes Yes remains eligible following neck losses in a pair of Monmouth Park turf sprint stakes this summer, the Gilded Times and the Anderson Fowler.

Also entered were Run Thruthe Sun, Man of Danger, Byanosejoe, Daddy Joe, and Upscaled.

Alost withdrawn from sale

Alost, scheduled to run in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Saturday, has been withdrawn from a horse sale that same day at Longchamp in Paris after the Belmont stewards notified the French sales company that their rules prohibit transfer or assignment of ownership interest after a horse is drawn into a race.

The stewards would have scratched Alost from the Hirsch if he remained in the sale.

- additional reporting by Mike Farrell