09/28/2011 1:54PM

Breeders' Cup: Trio using Jockey Club Gold Cup to gear up for Marathon

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Ryan Denver/Equi-Photo
A. U. Miner is among the BC Marathon candidates prepping in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Perhaps more than any other Breeders’ Cup event, the Marathon does not have a definitive prep race. There is good reason for that. For it to be a real prep, a prelude to the 1 3/4-mile Marathon, it would have to be run at a distance of at least 11 furlongs. In today’s game, the horse or horseman who would be willing to run in a prep race that far on dirt four or five weeks before a race this far would be few and far between.

That’s why we have a situation like the one we have in Saturday’s Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. Even in an event Saturday that is an easier spot because of the absence of Whitney and Met Mile winner Tizway, the Gold Cup is still an ambitious spot for Marathon candidates such as A. U. Miner, Birdrun, and Drosselmeyer. But what the Jockey Club Gold Cup does afford this trio is a chance to knock the rust off and sharpen for their Cup engagements.

A. U. Miner, who was moved up to third in last year’s Marathon, and Birdrun, who won the 12-furlong Brooklyn two starts back, have not raced since July 16, when they finished one-two in the 12-furlong Greenwood Cup. And while Drosselmeyer, winner of the 2010 Belmont Stakes going 12 furlongs, did start (unsuccessfully) in the Sword Dancer on turf in mid August, he has not really had a representative outing since his second in the Brooklyn on June 10.

Next week’s Hawthorne Gold Cup is another race that, although seemingly a more likely prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, could have major implications for the Marathon. Such potential Marathon possibles targeting the Hawthorne Gold Cup include Giant Oak, who finished fifth as the favorite in last year’s Marathon and won of the Grade 1 Donn early this year; and Pleasant Prince, who won the Ohio and Oklahoma derbies last year and was an impressive winner of an overnight stakes at Belmont most recently.

BREEDERS' CUP MARATHON: Top 10 contenders with comments and early odds »