09/14/2009 11:00PM

Gitano Hernando set for his return


Breeders' Cup Marathon candidate Gitano Hernando could make his long-awaited return to the races Thursday night in a one-mile, 141-yard allowance race on the Polytrack course at Wolverhampton just north of Birmingham, England.

Team Valor's 3-year-old colt has not been seen since finishing a head second in the 1 1/4-mile, 75-yard Group 3 Dee Stakes on May 8 at Chester. Trainer Marco Botti also has entered him in a 1 1/8-mile turf allowance at Newbury on Saturday. Either the Wolverhampton or Newbury race will serve as a prep for the 1 3/8-mile, Group 3 Diamond Stakes on the Dundalk Polytrack on Oct. 2. That race is a Win and You're In affair for the Breeders' Cup Marathon.

Should Botti opt to run Gitano Hernando at Wolverhampton, the British-bred son of Hernando would be facing a contentious field that includes Cesare, whose best effort this year was a second-place finish to Paco Boy in the one-mile, Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. Also involved is Godolphin's former group race performer Khor Dubai, the winner of a seven-furlong handicap on the Kempton Polytrack two back who was recently second in a seven-furlong turf allowance at Warwick.

Bred to stay at least 1 1/4 miles, Gitano Hernando may find the distance too short for him at Wolverhampton, especially in light of the competition. He will be piloted by Kieren Fallon, who has won on 14 of his 62 rides in Britain since his Sept. 4 return from suspension.