Preston Stables’ Birdrun, comfortable winner of the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) in his first attempt at 1 1/2 miles, looms a solid choice in the $200,000 Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing July 16.
The Greenwood Cup is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” event, meaning the winner receives an automatic berth in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. The Greenwood Cup, which attracted a field of 10, and Marathon are both run at 1 1/2 miles on dirt.
Birdrun, a 5-year-old horse by Birdstone , has six wins, six seconds, and a third in 19 starts. The Brooklyn victory June 10 at Belmont Park was his first in a graded stakes.
Birdrun, who prefers to be on or near the lead, wired the field in the Brooklyn under jockey Rajiv Maragh, who is named to ride him in the Greenwood Cup for trainer Bill Mott. Birdrun is the 122-pound co-highweight along with John Koenig’s Ponzi Scheme.
Ponzi Scheme, claimed by his current owner for $20,000 last year at Monmouth Park, is on a roll, having won three in a row, including two stakes. The 4-year-old gelding by Sunday Break is trained by Juan Serey and will be ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr. in the Greenwood Cup.
In his last start June 22 at Delaware Park, Ponzi Scheme won the Joseph French Memorial Stakes at a mile and 70 yards, and before that took the 1 1/16-mile Skip Away Stakes at Monmouth May 30. Ponzi Scheme, a winner of seven of 24 starts, never has raced beyond 1 1/16 miles.
Also in the field is Don Benge’s A.U. Miner, winner of last year’s Greenwood Cup and a troubled fourth in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Churchill. Trained by Clark Hanna and to be ridden by Calvin Borel, A.U. Miner was an even fifth in his 2011 debut June 17 at Churchill and seems poised for improvement on the stretchout.
A.U. Miner, a 5-year-old horse by Mineshaft , blossomed last year after having struggled to make an impact in allowance company earlier in his career. He gets a break in the weights at 114 and prefers to come from well off the pace.
The Greenwood Cup is race eight on a nine-race card at the southeastern Pennsylvania racetrack.
$200,000 Greenwood Cup Handicap (Race 8, 3:22 p.m. EDT), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Morning Line Odds
1. Polka At Night (KY), E Rivera, 114, R B Kissoon 30/1
2. Afleet Again (KY), F Pennington, 114, R E Reid Jr., 20/1
3. Birdrun (FL), R Maragh, 122, W I Mott, 8/5
4. Not Abroad (MD), N J Petro, 114, M P Petro, 15/1
5. A. U. Miner (KY), C H Borel, 114, C Hanna, 9/2
6. Moe Man (KY), L R Goncalves, 114, I R Wilkes, 15/1
7. Ron the Greek (FL), A S Arroyo, 114, P R Walder, 15/1
8. Ponzi Scheme (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 122, J Serey, 5/2
9. Chirac (FL), K Carmouche, 114, J C Guerrero, 8/1
10. Schoolyard Dreams (KY), S Elliott, 114, D S Ryan, 12/1