10/25/2006 11:00PM

Speed rivals could cook Afrashad


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Seven furlongs and the apparent plethora of other speed in the field could make Afrashad a vulnerable favorite in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Sport Page Breeders' Cup Handicap at Aqueduct.

Afrashad, owned by Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum's Godolphin Racing, has won 3 of 4 starts - all at six furlongs - this year, including a monster performance in a third-level allowance race at Belmont Park on Sept. 14. He won that race by 3 3/4 lengths in the slop and earned a gaudy Beyer Speed Figure of 111.

The track is likely to be sloppy on Saturday, but Afrashad may have to work hard to gain the lead with the likes of P. Kerney, Kazoo, and Carter winner Bishop Court Hill in the field.

"He runs as fast as he has to to make the lead, so it depends how fast he has to go to make the lead," jockey Richard Migliore said.

Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin's New York string, believes Afrashad "has hit another level" during his morning training. Mettee said the key to Afrashad is how he handles the ship from Belmont to Aqueduct. The colt was agitated at Saratoga before running fourth in the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap, though he handled a ship to Monmouth in July well enough to win an allowance race.

"There's always some cause of concern with him shipping over to Aqueduct and him running on a track he hasn't seen before, because he can be a little volatile," Mettee said.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. sends out the uncoupled entry of Silver Wagon and Kazoo. Kazoo could run with Afrashad early, while Silver Wagon could pick up the pieces late. Silver Wagon finished fourth behind Pomeroy in the Grade 1 Forego before running fifth in the Phoenix Breeders' Cup over Keeneland's Polytrack.

Regarding the Forego, Dutrow said: "He would have been second if he had a clean trip. He got intimidated being on the inside."

Bishop Court Hill won the Grade 1 Carter over a sloppy track here in April, but seems to need things his own way on the lead.

Sir Greeley, beaten a neck by Bishop Court Hill in the Carter, has not run since finishing sixth in the Metropolitan Handicap in May. He was scratched out of the Tom Fool in July and spent the summer turned out on a Long Island farm.

Blazing Purrsuit could benefit from a fast pace and is 3 for 5 over wet surfaces.