09/11/2006 11:00PM

Afrashad taking a drop after his Vanderbilt fizzle


ELMONT, N.Y. - The Godolphin-owned Afrashad, whose fourth-place finish in the A.G. Vanderbilt Breeders' Cup was one of the very few disappointments for the Maktoum family during the summer, drops to a $49,000 allowance/optional claiming sprint and looms the one to catch and beat in Thursday's eighth race at Belmont Park.

The six-furlong third-level allowance condition lured a field of seven sprinters. Afrashad drew in the middle of the pack in post 4. Breaking to his inside are Accountforthegold, Wild Nature and Saint Daimon, and to his outside are Rumspringa, Yes Yes Yes, and Callmetony.

Afrashad raced once as a 2-year-old in England, and was a handy winner on dirt at Lingfield. After being sidelined nearly two years, the speedball returned with a scintillating score on Belmont Stakes Day, running first-level allowance sprinters off their feet through fractions faster than the corresponding splits of the Grade 2 True North Handicap a race later. His final time of 1:08.38 was good for a Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

On July 4, Afrashad resurfaced at Monmouth Park and did basically the exact same thing to second-level rivals, quickly dashing clear and widening at each call to run six furlongs in 1:09 and earn a Beyer Figure of 106.

In the Vanderbilt, however, Afrashad held a short lead down the backstretch while being pressed by eventual winner War Front, and gave way around the turn.

Afrashad signaled he could rebound by posting a half-mile workout last Friday that was the fastest of 71 at the distance that day.

Accountforthegold and Rumspringa fell victim to Discreet Cat, another Godolphin-owned colt, when that exciting 3-year-old returned to action at Saratoga, and finished a distant second and fourth, respectively.

Wild Nature has only had two starts in New York since last fall, but won them both by a combined nine lengths, earning triple-digit Beyers each time. He dislikes wet tracks, though, and the forecast calls for rain on Thursday.

Saint Daimon, the field's lone 3-year-old, is back quickly after fading against Latent Heat last Friday. He is cutting back to his preferred distance and would be helped by a wet track.

Yes Yes Yes is returning to dirt after tiring in the Troy Stakes behind Second in Command's course record.

Callmetony's only loss from three starts at Belmont was in May against Anew, who came back to win the True North.