12/23/2010 3:52PM

Fast Alex seeks to regain old form in second-level optional claiming feature


Three strong Fair Grounds races last winter put Fast Alex on the fast track to the Louisiana Derby. But instead of contesting a prestigious stakes in early spring, Fast Alex will make his first New Orleans start since March 1 in a late-December allowance race.

Injury derailed Fast Alex’s development early last year. This fall, it has been lack of a suitable spot for his talents. Fast Alex finally seems logically placed in the featured eighth race on Monday at Fair Grounds as one of eight horses in a second-level allowance race also open to $40,000 claimers, and carded for one mile and 70 yards on dirt.

Fast Alex, a Jim Tafel homebred by Afleet Alex, rallied strongly for third in a fast sprint maiden race while making his career debut Jan. 23. Two weeks later, he rallied inside to comfortably secure his first victory in a two-turn maiden race, and a little more than three weeks after that, Fast Alex had little trouble disposing of entry-level allowance foes. But Fast Alex got hurt not long afterward and has struggled to get his career back on track.

Trainer Greg Geier fooled around with the colt over the summer at Arlington, but had no strong desire to start Fast Alex back on Polytrack. So, on Sept. 23, Fast Alex launched the second phase of his career in a turf race, and turned in a total dud. Last of 11 in that start, Fast Alex was better, but nowhere near his best, when he finished a distance sixth in a tough Keeneland synthetic-track allowance race on Oct. 15. And when Fast Alex finally got back on dirt, he did so in a restricted stakes at Delta Downs. There, racing on a bullring with a short stretch that doesn’t play to his strengths, Fast Alex broke last of nine from the rail, was hung six wide around the second turn, and still rallied for fourth while going just seven furlongs.

If nothing else, Fast Alex has gotten seasoning in his three post-layoff starts. He also has gotten in three Fair Grounds works since the Delta race, and the one on Dec. 6 looks encouraging. Robby Albarado is named to ride, and Fast Alex is not likely to go postward at odds nearly as appealing as his 8-1 morning-line price.

The race also includes Fair Grounds-loving Good and Lucky, who returned from a long layoff with a creditable fifth-place finish on Dec. 5 and stands to improve on Monday.