04/07/2005 11:00PM

Razor looks too sharp to ignore in Lafayette

Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Razor will be a solid favorite in a small field for the Grade 3 Lafayette, shortened to six furlongs.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Everything was proceeding according to plan for Steve Asmussen and a 3-year-old colt named Razor, who over the winter had asserted himself as one of the more capable young sprinters in the Midwest.

The Mountain Valley at Oaklawn Park looked like a perfect spot for Razor, but then a monster named Afleet Alex popped into the entry box, and suddenly, the plan didn't look all that swell.

"It was a great idea until Afleet Alex showed up in the Mountain Valley," said Asmussen.

Sunday, there is nothing near the caliber of Afleet Alex to oppose Razor in the Grade 3 Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland. Four other 3-year-olds will line up against Razor in the $100,000 Lafayette, a race that has been shortened to six furlongs after being held at seven furlongs the previous 23 years.

Afleet Alex, a surprise entry, wound up a 2 3/4-length winner of the March 5 Mountain Valley at Oaklawn, a six-furlong furlong race that served as a prep for the Rebel Stakes. Razor, who had won the Dixieland at Oaklawn for owner Padua Stables in his previous start, was no match for Afleet Alex but managed to finish second, well clear of the rest.

"I thought he ran very respectably that day," said Asmussen.

, with John Velazquez to ride, drew post 4 and looms a solid favorite in the Lafayette over More Smoke, Crimson Stag, Silent Bid, and Marine Seal.

Of the others, may be the greatest danger. Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Dallas Stewart, Crimson Stag dominated fellow Louisiana-breds at Fair Grounds this winter before failing in his turf debut in his last start. Since then, Crimson Stag has resurfaced in Kentucky, where last Sunday he posted a sharp five-furlong workout in 59.40 seconds at Churchill Downs.

"He's at the top of his game again," said Stewart. "That was a nice breeze."

The Lafayette, which goes as the eighth of nine races, was shortened in an attempt to lure a large field, a strategy that obviously did not come to fruition.

"There aren't that many stakes at three-quarters for 3-year-olds at this time of year, so we wanted to try this because the race hadn't been drawing very big fields at seven-eighths the last few years," said racing secretary Ben Huffman. "Not everybody is looking to go down the Kentucky Derby trail. Hopefully we'll get more horses next time around."