10/13/2010 4:41PM

European shipper Bright Horizon fits successful pattern


A productive handicapping angle will be offered in the first of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs if travel plans materialize for a European 3-year-old with appreciably upward form.

Bright Horizon, romping winner of a two-mile turf handicap at the Curragh in Ireland on Sept. 26, will target the BC Marathon, according to news reports from Europe that quoted trainer Aidan O’Brien. It makes sense, based on a time-honored angle. That is, an improving horse moving up in class in the fall of its 3-year-old season.

At 1 3/4 miles on dirt, the Grade 3 Marathon is scheduled for race 5 on Nov. 5, and is the first Breeders’ Cup race of the two-day program. The race is an anomaly. Long-distance main-track races rarely are run in the United States, perhaps one reason why the Marathon was won by low-profile European shippers the past two years.

Bright Horizon, 3 for 11, is similarly low profile, yet his form in Europe is comparable to Marathon winners Man of Iron and Muhannak. Bright Horizon enters on a conspicuous pattern of improvement. Sired by Galileo, Bright Horizon earned a Racing Post rating of 100 in his last start. Man of Iron had earned a 108 prior to winning the 2008 Marathon; Muhannak earned a 101 prior to the 2009 Marathon.

The top Marathon prospects in the U.S. remain on course. A.U. Miner, winner of the Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing, finished third in his Oct. 2 comeback. Eldaafer worked five furlongs Oct. 9 at Delaware Park, his first work since winning the Grade 3 Turfway Park Fall Championship. Alcomo, winner of the Grade  2 Brooklyn Handicap worked a mile Wednesday morning at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky.