11/23/2006 12:00AM

Afrashad splashes home in front


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though he hasn't been gone long, it was still a happy homecoming Thursday for jockey Richard Migliore, who guided Afrashad to a gate-to-wire 1 1/4-length victory over Sir Greeley in the $108,300 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct.

Migliore, a New York regular since the mid-1980's, recently moved his tack to Southern California, where he was slated to return early Friday morning. He arrived in New York late Wednesday so that he could spend Thanksgiving with his family as well as ride Afrashad, a horse Migliore thinks "can do better things next year."

Carrying 132 pounds on Thursday, Afrashad broke on top and, despite the efforts of Rudy Rodriguez on Kazoo, was able to run uncontested through fractions of 22.63 seconds and 46.23 before covering the six furlongs in 1:11.05 over a sloppy main track. He returned $4.30 as the favorite. It was the first stakes victory for Afrashad, a son of Smoke Glacken owned by Godolphin Racing and conditioned by Saeed bin Suroor.

"I wasn't that concerned with the rabbit factor today," said Migliore, who noted that Afrashad was compromised by pace pressure when third in the seven-furlong Sport Page Breeders Cup last out. "Three-quarters of a mile this horse can run the whole way."

In the stretch, Migliore hit Afrashad five times right-handed and four times left-handed as Introspect and then Sir Greeley attempted to run him down. Sir Greeley, who broke a step slowly under John Velazquez, finished second by 1o1/2 lengths over Introspect.

"I got after him pretty good because it sounded like hoof beats were pretty close to me, and last time I kind of felt like he anticipated the wire a little bit and I thought that cost him second," Migliore said. "Today, I wanted to make sure he ran through the wire and he ran all the way to the finish. He's just a very, very fast horse."

Afrashad is expected to winter in Payson Park under the tutelage of Godolphin assistant Rick Mettee.