Updated on 09/10/2011 5:09PM

Delaware Park: Eldaafer forced to settle for second behind Not Abroad in Governors Day

Not Abroad, ridden by Nick Petro, cruises to his first career stakes victory in the Governors Day.

Defending Breeders’ Cup Marathon champion Eldaafer, racing at a distance far shorter than he will be asked to go later this fall, had to settle for second behind runaway winner Not Abroad in Saturday’s $84,000 Governors Day Stakes at Delaware Park.

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in a field reduced to five starters following three scratches, the 6-year-old Eldaafer made a mild rally from last, although only 3 1/2 lengths off the first six furlongs in 1:11.52  set by dueling leaders Maximus Ruler and In the Juice. Jockey Gabriel Saez, riding Eldaafer for the first time, managed to get his mount to pass two horses with a furlong remaining in the mile-and-70-yard race, but Eldaafer could get no closer than 5 1/2 lengths at the finish while four lengths clear of third-place Fonda Ronda Won, the 19-1 outsider.

Trainer Diane Alvarado said she felt circumstances worked against Eldaafer, who had prepped for Saturday’s race by winning an allowance going 1 1/16 miles at Delaware 3 1/2 weeks ago.

“He did not break well and the distance may have been a little short for him,” Alvarado said.  “I did not think they went that fast and he may have had a little too much to do.  He also drew the rail and I am not sure if that helped either.  But all in all it was a pretty good race and we are pretty sure we are still on track for the Breeders’ Cup Marathon as long as he comes back good.”

Not Abroad ($8.20), a 4-year-old gelding ridden by Nick Petro for his brother, trainer Mike Petro, and owner Tim Cunningham, turned the tables on Eldaafer after finishing a half-length behind as the runner-up when they met on Aug. 17.  Not Abroad completed the distance on a fast track in 1:40.27 while collecting his fifth win in 24 starts. He was fourth in this same race a year ago when it was contested at 1 1/8 miles. His previous best performances in stakes came last year when he was second in consecutive starts in the Maryland Million Classic, Brandywine at Delaware, and the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap at Aqueduct.

She Be Classy ($2.80), ridden by Jeremy Rose for trainer Graham Motion, drew clear in deep stretch to take the $75,000 George Rosenberger Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares by 2 3/4 lengths. The 1 1/16-mile race, which went in 1:45.50, was taken off the turf and contested on a fast main track.  Punta Bellna finished second, a head in front of All Night Labor.

A 4-year-old filly owned by Nancy Mazzoni, She Be Classy won the off-the-turf John Rooney Memorial in June and another race taken off the grass, an optional $65,000 claimer, on Aug. 16. She is now 6 for 17 on dirt, compared with just 1 for 3 on turf.

Both the Rosenberger and the Governors Day were restricted to horses who had made at least one start in a non-stakes this season at Delaware Park.