Saturday, September 11, 2010 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Sept. 11, 2010 – Eldaafer earned his way to the Breeders' Cup World Championships in November with a half-length win Saturday over Falling Knife in the $100,000 Turfway Park Fall Championship (G3). Atoned was a neck back in third.
The mile-and-a-half Fall Championship is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race for the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon, which attained Grade III status this year. The Marathon runs at Churchill Downs Nov. 5, the first day of the two-day $25.5 million world championships.
Eldaafer raced in third and fourth through the opening mile, a comfortable length or two off the pace set, as expected, by Smarten Destiny, the lone speed after the scratch of Coolcullen Times. Eldaafer edged into the lead with a quarter-mile to go and held off Falling Knife and Atoned, the latter closing well after breaking in the air and racing last early.
Smarten Destiny set the half at :49.84 and the mile at 1:39.78 before giving way to Eldaafer, who finished in 2:32.55, just off the track record of 2:32.25 set by Delightful Kiss in this race in 2008.
"The race set up really well," said winning jockey Jon Court. "He kind of dragged me to the lead down the backside as we approached the far turn and I tried to bide my time and not pull the trigger until we straightened out, and when we did I knew I had to use that opportunity and punch the ticket and go. We tried to steal away, because there was a wall of horses right off my inside and outside. I felt him accelerate, though he didn't pull away like I thought he would. The time was a good moderate time. In fact, it was probably one of the better times as far as everybody judging the pace."
"He broke real sharp and Jon did exactly what we asked him to — get him off the rail and take him back a little bit," said winning trainer Diane Alvarado. "He just sat and waited and relaxed perfectly for him. It worked out great. He finished up good, and he shipped good."
The 2-1 betting favorite, Eldaafer returned $6.60, $3.80, and $3.20.
Fourth and following were Sligovitz, Odds On, Pick Six, Smarten Destiny, Formulaforsuccess, and Lignon's Hero.
A 5-year-old gelded son of A. P. Indy – Habibti, by Tabasco Cat, Eldaafer was bred by Shadwell Farm and is owned by Alghuwayriyah Stable. The Fall Championship win improved his record to 8 wins and 5 thirds in 23 career starts and earnings of $408,132.
Eldaafer finished 7th in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon last year. Asked about this year's Marathon, Alvarado said, "We want to take him. We'll take him back to Delaware, maybe Monday, and see how he comes out of this race."