May 25, 2022

Arlington Million contender Mekhtaal breezes with Secretariat hopeful Afandem

Mekhtaal (inside) was credited with a three-furlong breeze in :38 (Photo courtesy Four Footed Fotos)

Trainer Jean-Claude Rouget’s duo of Mekhtaal and Afandem limbered up in tandem over Arlington’s Polytrack on Friday, just getting some air into their lungs the day before their International Festival of Racing engagements.

The four-year-old Mekhtaal, widely seen as the leading threat to Arlington Million (G1) favorite Deauville, hugged the rail inside lightly-raced Afandem, who tries the top level for the first time in the Secretariat (G1).

Here’s the on-scene description of the French shippers from Arlington publicity:

“After schooling from the starting gate, the duo began cantering down the track towards the half-mile pole with Afandem two lengths in front of Mekhtaal before beginning the work three furlongs from the wire. At the quarter-pole Mekhtaal angled inside of Afandem and drew even with the younger colt while being restrained by his rider to not run past his workmate.”

Interestingly, clockers credited Mekhtaal with a three-furlong move in :38.00, but Afandem was not listed on the worktab.

Both Al Shaqab Racing colts are pegged at 9-2 on the morning line for their respective races. They’ve had opposite fortunes at the draw, with Afandem landing on the rail in the Secretariat but Mekhtaal stuck on the far outside in the Million.

Track announcer John G. Dooley pointed out, however, that the post may not be as detrimental as first thought for Mekhtaal. He’ll move in one spot from post 13, after Scottish’s defection, and there’s precedent for success from post 12:

Detailed analysis, including race replays, can be found on the international scouting reports for Mekhtaal and Afandem.