09/15/2005 11:00PM

Alex gets green light to gallop


ELMONT, N.Y. - Afleet Alex took his first serious steps toward a return to the races by galloping 1 1/2 miles Friday morning at Belmont Park, his most strenuous exercise since sustaining a condylar fracture in his left foreleg in late July.

Afleet Alex, with regular exercise rider Salamon Diego up, galloped alongside a stable pony with trainer Tim Ritchey aboard. Earlier in the morning, Afleet Alex had gone out for a jog over the training track. The two-a-day training regimen Ritchey designed for Afleet Alex paid huge dividends in the spring as the colt won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes after falling one length short in the Kentucky Derby.

His connections are still holding out hope that Afleet Alex can make the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic here on Oct. 29, but there are only six weeks until that race. Afleet Alex was found to have a condylar fracture on July 26 and had surgery the next day. Dr. Larry Bramlage reviewed X-rays of Afleet Alex's foreleg on Thursday and gave Ritchey the green light to pick up his training schedule. For the last two weeks, Afleet Alex has been jogging.

"It is important to get him galloping,'' Ritchey said. "It looked very, very good two weeks ago; after discussing it with Dr. Bramlage and Dr. [Patricia] Hogan we decided instead of giving him one more week [jogging] we gave him two weeks. The X-rays looked fantastic. We're not going to do anything to hurt him or hinder his career, but it's great that he can start to do more than just jog around the racetrack because he was getting pretty eager to do something.''

Ritchey said Afleet Alex would probably gallop alongside the pony through the weekend and then would begin galloping by himself in the early part of next week.

"The main thing is I have to see how he is after he has galloped a week or so, then I will know whether I need to start putting some works into him or I need to start giving him longer gallops,'' Ritchey said. "There's a lot of different ways to get to where we want to get to. The main thing is how much fitness he has maintained. I think he has maintained quite a bit, actually, because of all the walking he has done. Two and a half hours a day is a lot of walking.''

Ritchey said in order to make the Classic he would like to run in a prep race two to three weeks out from the race, meaning somewhere between Oct. 8-15.

Borrego arrives for Gold Cup

Across the road from Afleet Alex's barn resides Borrego, the Pacific Classic winner who arrived from Southern California on Thursday night. He is bedded down in John Hertler's Barn 17.

Borrego is scheduled to run next in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Oct. 1. If things go well in that race, Borrego will remain here and run back in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Trainer Beau Greely shipped Borrego to New York early to get him acclimated to the weather and track surface. Though Borrego shipped around the country several times as a 3-year-old last year, he has raced exclusively in Southern California this year.

"He has always been a pretty good shipper,'' Greely said. "It's a whole different thing from California, which is one of the other reasons I decided to run here . . . to give him a race over the track.''

Borrego has worked three times since winning the Pacific Classic on Aug. 21. He breezed six furlongs in 1:15.40 Wednesday at Hollywood Park before shipping Thursday. On Friday, he jogged once around Belmont's 1 1/2-mile oval under exercise rider Andy Durnin.

Borrego is likely to work here on Wednesday, Greely said.

No set plans for Ruler's Court

Ruler's Court came out of his allowance win here on Wednesday in good order, but his connections have yet to map out a definite plan for him. One potential scenario is to have run him back in the $250,000 Sport Page Handicap on Oct. 29 and then the Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 26.

"That's a race he will probably be nominated for,'' Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin Racing Inc.'s New York operation, said of the Sport Page. "With him you got to take it day by day.''

In winning a seven-furlong allowance race by a neck on Wednesday, Ruler's Court won for the first time in nearly two years. He had run only twice since taking the Grade 2 Norfolk at Santa Anita in 2003.

"I don't think seven-eighths is necessarily his best distance,'' Mettee said. "It wasn't a bad two-other-than that he won. We're very encouraged and happy. With him it was one little thing after another.''

Ruler's Court earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

- Henny Hughes, the Saratoga Special winner who was upset in the Grade 1 Hopeful, worked four furlongs in 48.32 seconds Friday morning at Saratoga. It was the fastest of 29 breezes at the distance. Trainer Patrick Biancone is pointing him to the $500,000 Champagne here on Oct. 8.