09/08/2011 1:45PM

Delaware Park: Eldaafer is the class, but can he shorten up?

Tom Keyser
Eldaafer, winning last year's Breeders' Cup Marathon, will go a much shorter distance in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Governors Day at Delaware Park.

Eldaafer, last year’s winner of the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, brings some unexpecteden top-shelf quality to Saturday’s $75,000 Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Governors Day Stakes at Delaware Park.

The mile-and-70-yard Governors Day on the main track and the $75,000 George Rosenberger Memorial at 1 1/16 miles on turf are part of a 12-race Owners’ Day card. Both stakes are restricted to horses who have started at least once in a non-stakes race this season at Delaware.

The 6-year-old Eldaafer became eligible when he won a no-conditions allowance race going 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 17. The 94 Beyer Speed Figure he earned is just one point less than he received for his victory as a 10-1 outsider in last fall’s BC Marathon at 1 3/4 miles.

Although Eldaafer has run twice at 1 1/2 miles and once at 1 3/8 miles during his six-race campaign so far this season, he is proficient at shorter distances as well, showing a 5-for-6 lifetime record in races between a mile and 70 yards and 1 1/16 miles.

“He is so versatile and you can really put him anywhere and he will run well,” trainer Diane Alvarado said. “He runs well on any surface, turf or dirt, it does not matter. But distance wise, he can go a mile and a half or a mile and a sixteenth. He has been running solid all year, he is fit, and he likes Delaware, so we are looking for another solid effort.”

Alvarado said if all goes well, Eldaafer will head back to Churchill Downs to defend his BC Marathon title on Nov. 5. He appears to hold a substantial class advantage over nearly all of the seven horses he is scheduled to face on Saturday.

The one exception is lightly raced 4-year-old Tempted to Tapit. The runner-up in last year’s Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, Tempted to Tapit was off for more than a year before he resurfaced in June by winning a first-level optional $16,000 claimer at Delaware, earning a 95 Beyer. Tempted to Tapit is an uncertain starter, however, after being cross-entered in Friday night’s $250,000 Presque Isle Mile.

Not Abroad and In the Juice both show Beyer Figures close to the 94 that Eldaafer posted 3 1/2 weeks ago.

The 4-year-old Not Abroad has recorded Beyers of 93 or 94 in three of his last four starts, including a win two starts ago in a second-level allowance at Parx.

In the Juice has been between 90 and 95 on the Beyer scale in four of his last five races, including a miss by a nose in the $100,000 R.R.M Carpenter Memorial in mid-July.

The co-featured Rosenberger (race 10) is a likely candidate to be moved from the turf course to the main track because of all the rain that has fallen in the mid-Atlantic region this week.

On dirt, the likely favorite would be She Be Classy, who has scored by 3 1/2 lengths each of the last two times her races were taken off the turf, including the John Rooney Memorial in mid-June.

On turf, the advantage would shift to Aquitaine, who owns 4 wins and a second in 5 starts over Delaware‘s grass course.