10/24/2012 4:20PM

Breeders’ Cup Marathon: Eldaafer heads U.S. forces

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Not Abroad, with Nick Petro aboard, scores a daylight victory in the Maryland Million Classic.

Included among the solid cast of 15 horses pre-entered for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon are a prior winner of the race, a trio of Group 1-winning foreign entrants, and a classic-placed 3-year-old.

Eldaafer won the Marathon at Churchill Downs in 2010 and will be starting in the race for the fourth straight year. In his final prep race before the Breeders’ Cup, Eldaafer earned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure, the second-highest of his 40-race career, while finishing third in the Oct. 6 Hawthorne Gold Cup. He will lead the American contingent into the Marathon along with Not Abroad and Worth Repeating.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Pre-entered fields with odds and comments]

Not Abroad enters the Marathon off of a convincing win in the Maryland Million Classic at Laurel Park on Oct. 6. A 5-year-old horse trained by Michael Petro and ridden by his brother, Nick, Not Abroad served notice that he could be a Marathon contender back in July when he finished second, only a half-length behind Redeemed, in the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing, a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup, guaranteeing a fees-paid spot in the Marathon.

Worth Repeating has been in the best form of his career since being claimed by trainer Michael Machowsky at the end of June. In three starts for his new connections, Worth Repeating has finished a strong second in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, and dominated the R.M. Hinds Handicap Fairplex Park on Sept. 23. With that win, Worth Repeating has now won both of his starts over fast dirt tracks in his career.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Race-by-race coverage, video, early odds]

Run over 1 3/4 miles on the main track, a combination that does not have a corresponding division in U.S. racing, the Marathon has also attracted a quartet of foreign entrants, two each from Europe and South America. The headliner of that group is Fame and Glory, trained by Aiden O’Brien. Crowned as Europe’s champion stayer in 2011 after winning both the Ascot Gold Cup over 2 1/2 miles and the two-mile British Champions Long Distance Cup, Fame and Glory is easily the most accomplished horse pre-entered for the Marathon. Now in his fifth season of racing, he has won 14 races overall, including five Group 1’s, with earnings of more than $2.3 million. The Marathon will be Fame and Glory’s first start on dirt.

Both Calidoscopio, a 9-year-old horse representing Argentina, and Almudena, Peru’s champion mare last year, arrived from South America in August and have been stabled at Hollywood Park while preparing for the Breeders’ Cup. Calidoscopio earned a Marathon berth upon winning the Group 2 General Belgrano on June 23, another Win and You’re In race. Almudena also holds an entry to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but the Marathon is her first preference.

Atigun is the lone 3-year-old to be pre-entered for the Marathon this year. Trained by Ken McPeek, Atigun has never won a stakes race but did finish third in the Belmont Stakes behind Union Rags and Paynter, and was beaten less than two lengths when he finished fourth in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Scheduled as part of the Friday, Nov. 2, Breeders’ Cup World Championship card, the Marathon will go as Race 5, with an approximate post time of 1:48 p.m. Pacific.