Alghuwayriyah Stable’s Eldaafer, a starter in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon a year ago, could be on his way back to the World Championship event once again thanks to his half-length score in the Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) on Sept. 11.
The 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy won for the third time in nine starts this season in the 1 1/2-mile Fall Championship, earning him an automatic bid into the Nov. 6 BC Marathon at Churchill Downs, which is a grade III race for the first time this year. Eldaafer finished seventh in the race at Santa Anita Park in 2009.
Under Jon Court, the 2-1 favorite was close to the pace in Fall Championship, racing near Falling Knife and Pick Six as they chased pacesetters Smarten Destiny and Formulaforsuccess for a mile. Smarten Destiny and Formulaforsuccess cut out fractions of :25.03, :49.04, 1:14.94, and 1:39.78.
Eldaafer began to make his four-wide move three furlongs out and grabbed the lead approaching the quarter-pole. He held off Falling Knife and Atoned in the final furlong while crossing the wire in a final time of 2:32.55 on the Polytrack.
Falling Knife and Perry Ouzts were a neck better than Atoned.
Dian Alvarado trains Eldaafer, who entered the race off an optional claiming win on the Laurel Park turf on Aug. 21. He also won on the Belmont Park dirt in May. The dark bay/brown gelding scored his biggest career victory in last year’s Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II).
Now 8-0-5 from 23 starts, Eldaafer has earned $408,132. He was bred in Kentucky by Shadwell Farm and is out of the Tabasco Cat mare Habibti.
“He broke real sharp and Jon did exactly what we asked him to—get him off the rail and take him back a little bit,” said Alvarado. “He just sat and waited and relaxed perfectly for him. It worked out great. He finished up good, and he shipped good.
“We want to take him (to the Breeders' Cup). We’ll take him back to Delaware, maybe Monday, and see how he comes out of this race.”
The winner paid $6.60, $3.80, and $3.20. The exacta (2-7) returned $102.60 and the trifecta (2-7-5) was $608.40.
Earlier in the day at Kentucky Downs, which shared a simulcast card with its sister track Turfway, Rezif ran off with a decisive 6 1/4-length win in the $150,000 Kentucky Cup Turf (gr. IIIT) at odds of 18-1. It was the first stakes win for the 5-year-old son of Distant View, who was runner-up to Cloudy's Knight in the race a year ago. This time, it was Cloudy's Knight, entering off an eighth-month layoff, who had to settle for second.
With Greta Kuntzweiler aboard, Rezif raced mid-pack for 10 furlongs, came out six-wide for his entry into the lane, and pulled clear of Cloudy's Knight for an easy victory.
Rezif won for the fifth time in 17 starts and increased his earnings to $174,484. He is owned by Donald Sexton, Thomas Baughman, and Matthew Jacobson, who also trains the bay gelding.
Rezif had lost all six of his previous starts in 2010 and had not won since August of last year at Mountaineer. Bred in Kentucky by Don Edward Fizer, he is out of the Dynaformer mare Formal Affair.
The winner paid $38.80, $8.20, and $4.80. Cloudy's Knight returned $3.20 and $2.60 as the odds-on choice. Free Fighter was third and paid $3.40.