The second time was the charm for Eldaafer in the Breeders' Cup Marathon (gr. II) and his connections are hoping that the fourth will be, too. The 7-year-old gelding is set to complete a quartet of appearances in the World Championships' longest event.
Eldaafer, whose morning line odds are 8-1, will break from the No. 10 post position Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park in the 1 3/4-mile Marathon. He finished seventh in the race in 2009 and then won by 1 3/4 lengths in 2010. Last year, the hardy son of A.P. Indy was sixth.
Ricardo Santana Jr. will be aboard Eldaafer as the gelding tackles the Marathon yet again. The jockey guided Eldaafer to a three-length victory in the Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes Sept. 8 at Delaware Park and to a third-place finish in the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II) Oct. 6.
The field of 14 runners for the $500,000 Marathon also includes European champion Fame And Glory from the formidable stable of Aiden O’Brien. The Montjeu horse took the Vintage Crop Stakes in Ireland in his 2012 debut, but he hasn't won or placed since.
Sense of Purpose was a 2011 champion in Ireland, but she has failed to score in a trio of outings this year. Commander marches into the Marathon with a six-race win streak that includes a victory by a head over Jebrica in the 11-furlong BC Premier's Handicap (Can-III) Oct. 8. Worth Repeating has a five-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Ralph M. Hinds Stakes at Fairplex Park Sept. 23 to his credit, and he was a grade III winner in 2011.
The Marathon's 9-2 morning line favorite is Atigun, who finished third in this year's 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes (gr. I). The Istan colt also was fourth in both the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational Stakes (gr. I) and the Travers (gr. I) with Mike Smith aboard. Smith will be back on board for the Marathon.
|Breeders' Cup Marathon (gr. II) Nov. 2 1:48 PM PDT|
|1||Atigun||Mike Smith||Kenneth G. McPeek||9-2|
|2||Fame And Glory||Jamie Spencer||Aidan P. O'Brien||5-1|
|3||Balladry||James Graham||Eoin G. Harty||30-1|
|4||Grassy||Garrett Gomez||Martin F. Jones||30-1|
|5||Jaycito||Joe Talamo||Bob Baffert||6-1|
|6||Calidoscopio||Aaron Gryder||Guillermo Frankel||8-1|
|7||Not Abroad||Nicholas Petro||Michael P. Petro||5-1|
|8||Romp||Joel Rosario||Kristin Mulhall||30-1|
|9||Almudena||Jose Valdivia||Juan Suarez||30-1|
|10||Eldaafer||Ricardo Santana, Jr||Diane Alvarado||8-1|
|11||Commander||Mario Gutierrez||Troy Taylor||15-1|
|12||Worth Repeating||Martin Pedroza||Michael Machowsky||5-1|
|13||Sense of Purpose||Pat Smullen||Dermot K. Weld||15-1|
|14||Juniper Pass||Frankie Dettori||Thomas Ray Bell II||30-1|