06/05/2009 12:00AM

Eldaafer nips Nite Light by a nose


ELMONT, N.Y. - Owner Richard DeMarco was so confident in his gelding Eldaafer's chances of winning Friday's Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park that he said he would have kissed any of the horses that finished in front of him.

DeMarco was able to avoid using his lips because Eldaafer was able to get his nose on the wire first, getting up in the final strides to edge Nite Light in the $200,000 Brooklyn at sloppy Belmont Park. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Rising Moon in third. They were followed in the order of finish by Ea, Alcomo, Fierce Win, and Delosvientos, who won this race last year.

The Brooklyn marked the first stakes victory for the 30-year-old trainer Diane Alvarado, who took out her trainer's license during the Gulfstream Park meeting after working for trainer David Jacobson. Alvarado was given this horse by DeMarco and his partner Vincent Mansour about a month ago.

"She seemed to fit our program," DeMarco said. "She's a horseperson; we gave our horses over to her. We came back a month later and they were like day and night."

DeMarco and Mansour claimed Eldaafer for $20,000 in January from Shadwell Stable and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. He won 2 of 3 starts after that before finishing third behind Atoned and Alcomo in the Nasty and Bold Stakes here on May 7.

In the Brooklyn, Eldaafer raced in sixth position under Jorge Chavez, while Nite Light, Fierce Wind, and Delosvientos battled on the lead. Nite Light put away those two horses, then was confronted by Rising Moon, the 3-2 favorite, after a mile in 1:39.57.

Nite Light and Rising Moon continued their battle into the stretch, with Nite Light putting away Rising Moon at the sixteenth pole. But under a relentless Chavez, Eldaafer was able to get up in the final two jumps to win by a nose. Eldaafer, a son of A.P. Indy, covered the 1 1/2 miles in 2:31.58 and returned $36.20.

"We took the blinkers off, he likes to stalk,'' Alvarado said. "He'll do what he wants to do. He's changed since he's been in the barn. He looks better, his attitude's a little better. Chavez rode a good race. Eldaafer didn't give up. We were all screaming; we all rode him to the wire.''

Nite Light, making his second start off a length layoff, fended off several challenges before getting run down late.

"That was a tough beat, he ran hard," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "Johnny [Velazquez] said he shied from somebody that was on the turf course down towards the wire. It was a big effort.''