03/01/2010 12:00AM

So far, so good for Fast Alex

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Back in October on the Hawthorne backstretch, the trainer Greg Geier mentioned to a passerby that there was a 2-year-old in the barn for whom he had high hopes.

Good call, Mr. Geier.

After two starts, Fast Alex, now 3, has established himself as a horse of substantial promise. He made his career debut in a 10-horse maiden special weight sprint on Jan. 23, and rallied steadily from eighth place to finish third in what probably was the strongest maiden sprint of the Fair Grounds meet. Geier wasted no time stretching Fast Alex out to two turns, and on Feb. 6, Fast Alex rallied up the rail into a glacial early pace and won his maiden by more than a length.

Now it is on to an entry-level, two-turn allowance, race 6 on Monday in New Orleans. Another win, and Fast Alex, the 2-year-old for whom there were high hopes, will earn a spot in the March 27 Louisiana Derby.

Fast Alex, who drew the rail for the second straight race, is one of seven 3-year-olds entered in a mile-and-40-yard route. The 3-year-old allowance contributes to a surprisingly dynamic Monday program, which also includes a strong second-level turf-sprint allowance (race 7), an entry-level turf-route allowance (race 9), and a two-turn, 3-year-old maiden (race 8) that drew 11 entries.

Fast Alex has posted two workouts since his maiden win, going three-quarters of a mile in mud on Feb. 15, and four furlongs in 47.80 seconds, fastest among 82 Fair Grounds half-mile works Feb. 22.

"Slow early, fast late," was how Geier described last Monday's drill.

Fast Alex, an Afleet Alex homebred owned by Jim Tafel, is the fourth foal out of the mare Unaffordable that Geier has trained. Others males were gelded before Geier laid hands on them. Fast Alex is a colt.

"They never gelded him because they always thought he might be a nice horse," said Geier.

Monday's race appears to have more speed than did the one Fast Alex won last time out, a plus as far as Geier is concerned. It also has better horses, particularly Island Soul. Island Soul got into an off-the-turf, two-turn maiden race Jan. 31 at Fair Grounds, and scored a sharp, four-length stalking win for trainer Steve Asmussen and Stonestreet Stables. Down With Dixie also has turned in a pair of creditable runs this winter in New Orleans.