03/12/2012 1:32PM

Aqueduct: Birdrun ships from Florida for Excelsior

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Jim Lisa
Birdrun will make his first start since finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Marathon when he runs in Saturday's Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The migration of better horses to New York from south Florida is still several weeks away. One horse getting a head start on his brethren, however, is Birdrun, who arrived at Belmont Park over the weekend and will start in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct.

Birdrun, who won last year’s Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont, has not run since finishing second to longshot Afleet Again in the Breeder’ Cup Marathon at Churchill Downs last November.

Bill Mott, who trains Birdrun for the Preston Stables, had the 6-year-old son of Birdstone at Payson Park all winter and was contemplating staring him in last month’s Stymie at Aqueduct, but that race didn’t draw enough entries to be carded.

The Excelsior, like the Stymie, is run at 1 1/8 miles over the inner track and is likely to attract a field of six or seven when entries are taken Wednesday.

“I’m not sure this is favorite distance but we got to start somewhere so we’re starting here,” Mott said Monday from Florida. “He had a vacation and he’s doing well.”

Birdrun appears to be a specialist at marathon distances and will likely be aimed at similar races to last year such as the Brooklyn, the Greenwood Cup – for which Birdrun was awarded first-place following the disqualification of A.U. Miner – and the Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

Mott said Birdrun would be ridden by Junior Alvarado in the Excelsior.

Others pointing to the Excelsior include Inherit the Gold – last year’s winner – Marilyn’s Guy, Redding Colliery, San Pablo, and Stormy’s Majesty.