- Taking a look at the latest Blog Standings (scroll down the right margin), we see that Flower Alley has moved to within 15 points of leader Afleet Alex. The Cash Is King crew may have once felt like Tiger Woods in the clubhouse with a 5 stroke lead, but Flower Alley has charged to within striking distance with his second in the G2 Dwyer, and wins in the G2 Jim Dandy and the G1 Travers. Next up is the Jockey Club Gold Cup, also a Grade 1, and Flower Alley will overtake Alex merely by showing up in the starting gate. According to the Blog Standing rules, a participant gets 35 points just for being an also-ran in a Grade 1, and I think that makes a lot of sense. It takes ability and endurance to answer the call in Grade 1s throughout the year, and the horses that can take the grind and keep going deserve some credit for that.
Tim Ritchey’s training methods have received a lot of attention. When Afleet Alex was a bit short in the Derby, and reported to not be looking all that hot, his 2 and 3 a days were questioned. Then he was a genius after the Stumble and the Belmont romp. Now his horse is trying to recover from the fracture in his left front ankle.
On August 20, Ritchey told Dick Jerardi that "It just isn't healing fast as we had hoped." [Philly Daily News] He was later quoted in the Thoroughbred Times as saying that Alex was “iffy” for the Breeders Cup. But yesterday he told the Albany Times Union:
"It's [the BC Classic] a good possibility.....It just depends on how much fitness he has and how he trains the next seven or eight weeks. I'd like to get a race in before that. It just depends on how everything plays out. It's a work in progress." [Albany Times Union]Sounds like Ritchey saw the latest Blog Standings and is getting nervous! Afleet Alex will appear on the track at Saratoga after the second race on Saturday, but he doesn’t get any Blog points for that.
I’ve picked Flower Alley in his last two races, but it’s not like I’m in love with him; he just seemed to fit in both races. He worked hard to win his two Saratoga stakes, but won by a comfortable margin with Beyers of 112 and 110. He’s a very nice, improving horse, and kudos to his connections for stopping on him after the Derby and aiming for the summer stakes. Who knows, he’ll probably be a decent price in the Gold Cup against older horses and because of the way Bellamy Road was praised for his second place finish. Yes, Bellamy Road showed speed and yes, he fought back when Flower Alley first engaged him and finished clear for second. But that was a nearly 52 second final half and 26.38 for the last quarter. Alysheba losing to Ferdinand in the BC Classic this was not. I was frankly a little disappointed in the performance, partly because I’m not at all blown away by Flower Alley; perhaps I’m still too mesmerized by Bellamy Road’s Wood.