04/29/2005 11:00PM

Bad weather can't deter Afleet Alex


For the second consecutive morning, rain and a sloppy track forced all three scheduled works to be postponed as trainer Nick Zito decided to wait another 24 hours before giving Bellamy Road, High Fly, and Noble Causeway their final Derby preps.

The wet track could not keep Afleet Alex from his usual daily rounds - and then some - as the Arkansas Derby winner was clearly the star of the show after training an almost incomprehensible five miles split between a pre-dawn jog and a mid-morning jog/gallop.

The three likely favorites in this year's Derby, Bellamy Road, Bandini, and Afleet Alex were all out on the track simultaneously within minutes after the course opened for training at 6 a.m.

Bellamy Road, neck bowed, put in another strong gallop while again being restrained from extending himself too much before Sunday's work. Bandini galloped aggressively for the third straight morning while again throwing in a few extra bucks and kicks for good measure.

Afleet Alex did nothing out of the ordinary during his usual two-mile, early-morning jog alongside the stable pony, but his performance after the renovation break was extremely impressive. After warming up with another easy one-mile jog, Afleet Alex broke away from the pony leaving the half-mile pole and galloped twice around the one-mile course. His action was much smoother than on Friday and he appeared to get even stronger the second time around despite his seemingly demanding itinerary.

Noble Causeway and High Fly don't have the same fluidity during their daily gallops as stablemates Bellamy Road and Sun King, but they each had arguably their best morning of the week, with the compact High Fly again showing an eagerness to train that befits his gritty running style.

While Bandini is the clear-cut leader of Pletcher's trio of Derby contenders, both Flower Alley and Coin Silver could prove intriguing longshots. Flower Alley had a routine gallop, sans blinkers, and was scheduled to work while equipped with them Sunday. Lexington winner Coin Silver is not scheduled to work until Monday and, as a result, was allowed to gallop along at a noticeably brisker pace under Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr., traveling at nearly a two-minute clip by the time he passed the finish line the second time.

Greeley's Galaxy returned to the track for the first time since his grueling one-mile workout on Thursday and appeared none the worse for wear from the experience. Sort It Out's chestnut coat glowed in the daylight as he galloped along earnestly following the renovation break after spending the early part of the week training in relative anonymity before dawn.

The morning's only Derby workout took place at Hollywood Park, where Wilko worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds in company with stablemate and Grade 1 stakes winner Pt's Grey Eagle. Wilko, under jockey Corey Nakatani, spotted Pt's Grey Eagle two lengths leaving the five-furlong pole, drew even on the turn, then pulled away through the stretch, covering his final quarter-mile in 22.34 seconds and galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.68, according to trainer Craig Dollase's watch.

- additional reporting by Steve Andersen