10/17/2012 4:36PM

Breeders’ Cup Marathon: Eldaafer likely to make fourth appearance

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Barbara D. Livingston
Eldaafer has run in the last three editions of the Marathon, and won the race at Churchill Downs in 2010.

As the two-day, 15-race bonanza known as the Breeder’s Cup rapidly approaches, all of the major prep work has been done, and it now becomes only a matter of the horses making it through the next two weeks without a hiccup. The fields for each race are coming into sharper focus by the day, although for a race like the Marathon, things are still in flux to a certain extent.

The final major race that could be considered a prep for the Marathon, the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup, was run on Oct. 6. The third-place finisher from that race, Eldaafer, is likely to make his next start in the Marathon. Eldaafer has run in the last three editions of the Marathon, and won the race at Churchill Downs in 2010. Gold Cup winner Pool Play was considered possible for the Marathon immediately after the race, but his connections have now said that he will be pre-entered only in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

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Three additional contenders may have been added this week, as the connections of Commander, Atigun, and the Peruvian mare Almudena have announced that they are targeting the Marathon for their next race.

Commander, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Troy Taylor, appears to be heading to the Breeders’ Cup after winning the Grade 3 Premiers Handicap over 1 3/8 miles at Hastings Park on Oct. 8. Commander has now won six straight stakes races dating back to June 23.

Trainer Ken McPeek, who is pointing Travers winner Golden Ticket to the Classic, said his 3-year-old colt Atigun would run in the Marathon. Atigun finished fourth, less than two lengths behind Golden Ticket and Alpha, in the Travers, and had previously finished third in the Belmont Stakes behind Union Rags and Paynter. In his most recent start, Atigun finished fourth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

Almudena, Peru’s champion mare in 2011, has won 6 of her 18 career starts, including the Group 1 1000 Guineas in 2010. She had been mentioned as possible for either the Filly and Mare Turf or the Ladies’ Classic, but will now be pointed to the Marathon instead, according to a statement made by her owner, William Saba. Almudena shipped to Southern California in August along with fellow Marathon contender Calidoscopio. She has posted three timed workouts at Hollywood Park, including a one-mile move on Oct. 8 in 1:42.40 and one mile Oct. 17 in 1:43.