09/25/2013 3:38PM

Breeders' Cup Marathon: Without Richard's Kid, Eldaafer, two new contenders emerge

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Barbara D. Livingston
Suns Out Guns Out will take a shot at the Breeders' Cup Marathon after winning his most recent start, an allowance at Parx.

Following a solid performance in the Pacific Classic Stakes, Richard’s Kid could have been considered a flight risk to try the Breeders’ Cup Classic instead of testing the Marathon.

The division’s de facto leader, Richard’s Kid will indeed pass on the Marathon, but instead of the Classic, the horse’s next stop will be the breeding shed. The 8-year-old Richard’s Kid was retired on Tuesday after he was found to have sustained a slight tendon tear.

Richard’s Kid had established himself as one of the biggest threats among the handful of Marathon contenders, by virtue of his win in the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar and a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes at Santa Anita, both at 1 1/2 miles. He most recently finished fourth to Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 25.

Eldaafer, winner of the 2010 Marathon, is also likely to skip this year’s race, ending his streak of entries in the race at four consecutive years. Instead, the 8-year-old Eldaafer will point toward the Grade 3 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap, in which he finished third last year.

“Everybody’s pushing for the Breeders’ Cup, but the owners said if I wanted to go to Hawthorne to just wait for Hawthorne,” said trainer Diane Alvarado. “They moved the race to Nov. 30 this year so a lot of the horses will go to the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll miss them, and it will be good for us. He ran really well in the Gold Cup last year.”

Eldaafer would have once again been a threat to become the first two-time winner of the Marathon, following his win in the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup Stakes at Parx Racing.

In the absence of Richard’s Kid and Eldaafer, a pair of contenders have come forward to target the 1 3/4-mile Marathon.

Suns Out Guns Out was confirmed for the $500,000 race after his visually impressive win in a one-mile allowance at Parx on Sept. 21.

The 4-year-old Suns Out Guns Out dueled with Yourhonorandglory and Pryce’s Posse, and disposed of those tiring rivals in the final furlong to draw off by 4 3/4 lengths. He completed the race in 1:37.11 under jockey Julien Leparoux.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Dale Romans, Suns Out Guns Out tested the waters of the Marathon division in his previous start, the Greenwood Cup. Though he came up empty in the stretch, finishing fourth by 5 1/2 lengths to winner Eldaafer, Suns Out Guns Out was compromised by a wide position in the first and final turns and could not capitalize on a stalking trip. He did, however, hold the lead for a few slight head bobs from three-wide heading into the final turn before the winner took over from the rail.

Also declaring their intention to race in the Marathon were the connections of London Bridge, making him the first European-based contender for this year’s edition.

A 3-year-old son of Arch, London Bridge responded positively when trainer Joanna Hughes tested the colt at distances past a mile in June, winning races at 1 1/8 miles, 1 1/4 miles, then 1 1/2 miles in England.

Co-owned by Eastwind Racing Ltd. and Martha Trussell, London Bridge made his stakes debut in his most recent start, shipping to France to run in the Prix Michel Houyvet. He finished fourth in the 1 7/8-mile race, 4 3/4 lengths behind the winner, Destruct. London Bridge has won 3 of 8 career starts for earnings of $32,969.