09/26/2012 3:29PM

Breeders' Cup Marathon: Worth Repeating may inherit favorite's role


Proven ability over the distance of 1 3/4 miles is unlikely to become a calling card in American racing anytime soon, and the Breeders’ Cup Marathon has faced something of an uphill battle in its attempt to lure top-class horses since being added for the 2008 program (Can you name the post-time favorite for each of the four runnings to date?).

But that hasn’t precluded the race from producing thrilling finishes, beginning with European imports Muhannak and Man of Iron taking photos over Santa Anita’s old synthetic surface in ’08 and ’09, respectively. Throw in a post-race brawl in the winner’s circle between jockeys Calvin Borel and Javier Castellano after the roughly run 2010 edition at Churchill Downs and an $85.20 upset by Afleet Again at Churchill last year, and you have, if nothing else, a race capable of generating enough excitement to hold its own on racing’s biggest stage.

The 2012 Marathon appeared to finally have a handicap horse with some top-level credentials as the favorite with Redeemed. A multiple graded stakes winner of more than $800,000, Redeemed was third earlier this year in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap and was being pointed to the Marathon by owner Samantha Siegel and trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

Redeemed stamped himself as the horse to beat when he stretched out to 1 1/2 mlies over the summer to post easy victories in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park, where he ran away to a 10-length score with a 105 Beyer Speed Figure, and the Greenwood Cup at Parx, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race for the Marathon.

That all changed with the announcement last week that Redeemed had been retired with a torn tendon in his right foreleg while preparing for the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. With Redeemed unable to participate, favoritism may fall to Worth Repeating, a graded stakes winner over 1 1/2 miles on Santa Anita’s main track last year and winner of the Ralph M. Hinds Memorial at Fairplex last Sunday in his final prep for the Marathon.

Horses to watch this weekend include Balladry, who finished third in a couple of long distance races over the summer behind Breeders’ Cup Classic bound Richard’s Kid and is scheduled to run in Saturday’s Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita. Perhaps another horse to watch is Prince Will I Am, who finished second in the 2010 Marathon at Churchill Downs before being disqualified and placed 10th and is scheduled to make his second start back from a long layoff in Belmont’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, also on Saturday.

◗ The favorites for the first four runnings were: Sixties Icon (2008), Mastery (2009), Giant Oak (2010), and A. U. Miner (2011).