03/28/2005 1:00AM

Afleet Alex's lung infection gone

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Afleet Alex, who was found to have a lung infection after finishing sixth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 19, scoped clean on Monday.

"He was scoped after he galloped," said Tim Ritchey, who trains Afleet Alex. "There was no sign of any infection."

Afleet Alex had seven days of antibiotics following the Rebel, and he returned to the track Saturday for the first time since the 1 1/16-mile race. He jogged Saturday and galloped on Monday, and Ritchey said the colt's works will be stepped up in order to keep him on target for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16.

"I want to see how he gallops the next week, then I'll reevaluate just where we are with him," said Ritchey. "Obviously, I will have to do more with him than what I would have done if he would have gotten the race I wanted him to get in the Rebel.

"Say if he would have breezed six furlongs and tried to go in 1:13 or 1:14, now he'll probably breeze seven-eighths, and try to go in 1:22, 1:23, somewhere around there. I'll do a little further and a little faster just to get that fitness level that we want to get to go a mile and an eighth" in the Arkansas Derby.

Ritchey has also covered his bases by nominating the colt to the Grade 2, $325,000 Coolmore Lexington at 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland on April 23, and the $100,000 Derby Trial at one mile at Churchill Downs on April 30.

Ritchey said his first preference remains the Arkansas Derby.

"I'd rather have three weeks before the Kentucky Derby at a mile and an eighth, which would be ideal," said Ritchey. "But if something doesn't work out, where we don't get to do that race the way we want to, we've got a couple of other spots."

Afleet Alex won the $50,000 Mountain Valley at Oaklawn in his first start at 3 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106, the top number for a 3-year-old in 2005. Last year, he won the Grade 1 Hopeful and finished a troubled second in the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He races for Cash Is King Stables.

Rockport Harbor gallops on wired foot

Rockport Harbor galloped 1 1/2 miles on Monday, his first serious exercise since blacksmith Ian McKinlay did corrective work on his right hind foot on Friday.

"It's the best he's gone since before the Remsen," said John Servis, who trains Rockport Harbor for Fox Hill Farms.

Rockport Harbor sustained a gash on his right hind foot in the Grade 2 Remsen in November, and the injury flared up on Thursday, prompting Servis to engage McKinlay, who is based in New York.

Servis said the injury site was found to be moving independent of the rest of the foot, so the hoof would shift when Rockport Harbor would step down. McKinlay wired the foot so the old injured portion would move in unison with the rest of the foot. Rockport Harbor jogged on Saturday after missing training on Friday. There was no training Sunday at Oaklawn because of Easter.

Servis said Rockport Harbor, who finished second in the Rebel while making his seasonal debut, remains on target for the Arkansas Derby.

"Right now, I'm feeling really good," said Servis.

Mile should suit Sampson's Son

Trainer Steve Hobby has wanted to run Sampson's Son at a mile since last year, and on Wednesday he will get his chance. Sampson's Son is one of eight colts and geldings entered in the featured ninth, a one-mile conditioned allowance worth $34,000.

Hobby believes the configuration of the race, which will have a short stretch run and end at the sixteenth pole, will suit Sampson's Son, who will be racing around two turns for the first time since 2003. In his last start he closed well for second in a six-furlong race that went in a quick 1:10. Sampson's Son registered his biggest victory last fall at Keeneland, when he won a seven-furlong allowance race by nine lengths and earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 97.

"The mile here, I think he'll really like it," said Hobby. "It's more of a seven-furlong kind of horse race than a mile-and-a-sixteenth horse race, I think. I've been wanting to do this with him a long time. It just never would work out last year."

Sampson's Son is owned by Top Turf Stables and he will be ridden by Tim Doocy. His chief rivals include Proud Comic, Kickboard, and Extra Exclusive.

* Snorter, a Grade 3 winner who captured an allowance Saturday at Oaklawn in his first start since October, is a candidate for the Grade 3, $100,000 Fifth Season Breeders' Cup on April 13, said his trainer, Cole Norman.

* There is a $4,443 pick six carryover for Wednesday.