05/02/2005 11:00PM

Kentucky Derby clocker report for Tuesday

Afleet Alex works a half-mile Tuesday at Churchill after warming up with a 1 1/4-mile jog.

Weather: Sunny, Temp. 40
Track: Fast

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Only one Kentucky Derby contender worked on a cold, crisp, and clear Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs. All eyes were on Afleet Alex when he came out to drill a half-mile under jockey Jeremy Rose after the renovation break. The morning also marked the first local appearance of reigning Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Wilko, who merely jogged once around the course following a short visit to the one-mile chute.

Work of the day

Granted, Afleet Alex (four furlongs in 48.74 seconds) had no competition for the honor, since he was the only Derby worker Tuesday. But even if he had, it would have taken an outstanding performance to top a half-mile work that was preceded by a 1 1/4-mile jog just to loosen up.

With Rose planting the reins low on his mount's neck and taking a hold that he never relinquished, Afleet Alex came away from the pole completely relaxed, easing into his work with a leisurely opening furlong in 13.58 and quarter-mile in 25.72. Once turning into the stretch and switching leads, Afleet Alex picked up the beat without the need of urging, accelerating and maintaining that pace through the wire. He completed his second quarter in an eye-popping 23.02, then galloped out another furlong around the turn in 12.86, the first sub-13 gallop-out by a Derby runner here this week.

Despite his rigorous training schedule and extremely fast Arkansas Derby prep less than three weeks earlier, Afleet Alex has been nothing short of awesome in his two local works. The question remains whether he can sustain that type of effort going 1 1/4 miles Saturday.

Those who got up early to get another look at Bandini were disappointed when both he and stablemate Flower Alley stayed in the barn Tuesday. That was a bit of a surprise considering Bandini had returned to the track Monday morning for a lively gallop following Sunday's five-furlong work.

But early birds did get treated to another outstanding performance from likely Derby favorite Bellamy Road, who maintained his customary 6:30 a.m. training schedule. Bowing his neck majestically, Bellamy Road galloped along at a slow, strong, comfortable pace while occasionally tossing his head in a futile effort to break exercise rider Carlos Correa's hold.

Sun King, who appeared a bit lackluster in a slightly abbreviated 1 1/4-mile gallop Monday, looked much stronger today, also tugging at the bit while stretching back to 1 1/2 miles. Stablemate Noble Causeway also pulled his way through another nice gallop.

High Limit had a routinely excellent morning and has consistently been as good as any Derby horse seen here over the past week. He galloped a brisk 1 1/2 miles immediately after the renovation break and will get a chance to stretch his legs a bit more with a half-mile blow out Wednesday.

Wilko made his much-anticipated local debut near the end of the opening training session. Accompanied by a stable pony, he jogged up and back the one-mile chute, then got himself familiar with the surroundings during a single tour of the one-mile racetrack. Wilko gave trainer Craig Dollase a momentary scare when he briefly pulled away from the pony rider just before exiting the track. Looking forward to Wednesday's gallop after being impressed with a tape of Wilko's final California workout on Saturday.

* Runway Model (three furlongs in 35.20) was the only Oaks filly to work, and put on quite a show. Breaking off at the three-furlong pole under jockey Eddie Martin Jr., Runway Model zipped around the turn in 11.51 and continued her rapid pace through the stretch despite losing her focus a bit and taking an erratic path approaching the wire. Once passing the finish line, she continued to give Martin fits, ultimately requiring the aid of the outrider to pull her up the turn. Runway Model galloped out to the seven-furlong pole in 48.70.