Eldaafer and Nite Light, separated by only a nose in last month’s Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II), will meet again July 18, this time with a Breeders’ Cup berth on the line. The older horses will square off in the $250,000 Greenwood Cup at Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack.
Thanks to the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series, the winner of the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup will receive an automatic trip to Santa Anita Park for a chance in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Marathon. A field of six was entered for Philly Park’s feature race. Post time is set for 3:50 p.m. EDT.
Run over Belmont Park’s sloppy track June 5, Alghuwayriyah Stable’s Eldaafer chased down Nite Light in the Brooklyn and got up by a nose in the final jump at 17-1 while making his first start for trainer Diane Alvarado. The 4-year-old gelding by A.P. Indy—Habibti, by Tabasco Cat, was also making his graded stakes debut. Overall, the former claimer is 5-0-2 from 10 starts with earnings of $231,392. With Clinton Potts aboard, Eldaafer, bred in Kentucky by Shadwell Farm, will have to carry 122 pounds, eight more than last time out.
Edward Evans’ Nite Light took over after six furlongs in the Brooklyn and led the rest of the way until being caught at the wire. The 5-year-old son of Thunder Gulch was making just his second start since the 2008 Brooklyn when finishing fifth. The Todd Pletcher trainee is a three-time stakes winner and was runner-up in the Excelsior Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct last April. Getting an eight-pound break from Eldaafer this time, he will break from post 6 with John Velazquez aboard. The bay horse was installed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite.
Pletcher will also send out Zayat Stable’s Alaazo, fourth in an optional claimer last out. The 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt was fourth in the Haskell Invitational (gr. I) last season.
Also in with a chance is Brazilian-bred Alcomo, who was fifth in the Brooklyn but defeated Eldaafer in the Nasty and Bold Stakes May 7 at Belmont Park while finishing runner-up to Atoned. Eduardo Caramori trains.
$250,000 Greenwood Cup (Race 9, 3:50 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Luna Park (NJ), J F Hampshire Jr., 114, J J Tammaro, III 8/1
2. Critical Acclaim (KY), R Chiappe, 114, G R Katz 12/1
3. Alcomo (BRZ), W Martinez, 114, E Caramori 9/2
4. Eldaafer (KY), C L Potts, 122, D Alvarado 5/2
5. Alaazo (KY), K Carmouche, 114, T A Pletcher 7/2
6. Nite Light (KY), J R Velazquez, 114, T A Pletcher 9/5