10/26/2011 2:05PM

Breeders' Cup: A. U. Miner looks like favorite in Marathon

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Ryan Denver/Equi-Sport
A. U. Miner figures to be the favorite over 12 other pre-entrants in the Grade 2, $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

Off a gaining fifth in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and a first-place finish (he was subsequently disqualified from the purse money) in the Greenwood Cup two starts back, A. U. Miner figures to be the favorite over 12 other pre-entrants in the Grade 2, $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon going 1 3/4 miles, the first Breeders’ Cup race on the Saturday Breeders’ Cup card.

A. U. Miner was moved up to third in last year’s Marathon, which was won in a 10-1 upset by Eldaafer. Eldaafer is back to defend his title, but currently is not in as good a form as he was in this time last year.

Cease, Birdrun, and Giant Oak are all prominent Marathon pre-entrants. The lightly raced Cease was a narrowly beaten third last time out in the Hawthorne Gold Cup, his stakes debut, confirming his dramatic improvement since moving to dirt three starts ago. Giant Oak, on the other hand, was a disappointing fifth in the Hawthorne Gold Cup and seems well below the form that enabled him to win the Grade 1 Donn Handicap early this year. As for Birdrun, he finished sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup off the same 2 1/2-month layoff A. U. Miner was coming off of. Like

A. U. Miner, Birdrun has every license to improve.

Europe is represented by three pre-entrants in the Marathon, with Brigantin, third in two 20-furlong Group 1’s this year, being the best of them. Meeznah, winner of a Group 3 race at this 14-furlong distance last July, and Harrison’s Cave, winner of two minor races in Ireland from his last three starts, are the other European pre-entrants. Of these three, only Harrison’s Cave, who made three unsuccessful starts on a synthetic surface, has ever raced on anything other than turf.