Million Entrant Afsare Works at Arlington
British-bred Afsare, originally scheduled for turf work on the morning of Aug. 16 in preparation for the Arlington Million (gr. IT), instead drilled four furlongs in :48 flat over the Arlington Park main track due to a steady rain that fell during training hours.
Afsare, campaigned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, finished second by a neck in Great Britain's Sky Bet York Stakes (Eng-II) in his last trip to the post July 28, is among the leading European contenders for the 30th anniversary edition of the Arlington Million Aug. 18.
Trainer Luca Cumani's head traveling lad Charlie Henson supervised Afsare's move, accomplished with British apprentice jockey Patrick Hills in the irons. According to Henson, the switch in surfaces was negligible.
"He probably went a little quicker on the Polytrack the way it was this morning, but that doesn't matter," said Henson. "The important thing is that he has settled in well since he got here to Arlington."
Asfare is listed at 6-1 on the morning line for the Million and is to have the services of regular rider Kieren Fallon. The 5-year-old gelded son of Dubawi won a minor stakes at Sandown Park prior to his most recent effort. He was also second to Million rival Crackerjack King in the Italy's Premio Presidente della Repubblica (Ity-I) at Capannelle in May.
The Marco Botti-trained Crackerjack King and stablemate Jakkalberry, who entered in the inaugural American St. Leger, both went to the track for steady canters Thursday. Crackerjack King is pegged at 5-1 for the Arlington Million.
A third European-based Million entrant, Mark Hawtin's Wigmore Hall, had an easy gallop around the main track Thursday during training hours. The 5-year-old Irish-bred son of High Chaparral was fourth in last summer's Arlington Million and runner-up in the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) two years ago.
"I still believe that last year we would have been second in the Million if we hadn't gotten knocked around a bit during the running," said Gillian Dolman, assistant to Wigmore Hall's trainer Michael Bell.
Wigmore Hall is coming off a sixth-place effort in the Sky Bet York Stakes and is winless in six starts in 2012.
"We haven't had quite as good a year so far this year," Dolman said. "Because of all the wet weather we've had back home in England, the ground has been a little too soft for our horse. Hopefully, the rain we've had here today will stop and the turf will dry out in time for our race Saturday.
"Wigmore Hall loves it here at Arlington. I really believe he knows he's back here and he thinks it's nice to be back. The boss (trainer Bell) will be here later today."
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