Atigun – Shortleaf Stable’s Atigun, the 9-2 morning line favorite for Friday’s $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon, galloped a little more than 1 1/2m Wednesday morning under exercise rider Danny Ramsey.
Atigun will be ridden in the Marathon by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who is tied with Jerry Bailey as the all-time winningest rider in Breeders’ Cup history with 15. Atigun will be Smith’s first opportunity to reach victory No. 16.
“I love him in the Marathon,” said Smith, who has ridden Atigun in his past two starts. “He never gets tired and he is always running at the end. The one hole won’t bother him going that distance.”
Trainer Ken McPeek is hopeful Atigun can provide him with an initial Breeders’ Cup victory.
“I’m due to win one of these,” McPeek said. “I’ve had four seconds and six thirds from my 20 starters.”
The trainer appears to be holding a strong hand with his first Marathon starter.
“It looks like he fits really good in here and is probably the class of the race coming out of the Belmont, Travers and Jockey Club Gold Cup,” McPeek said. “The track will not be an issue because he has been on just about everything. He is coming out of Saratoga and Belmont and his last two breezes at Keeneland were just maintenance works.”
Eldaafer – Marathon contender Eldaafer, who won the 2010 edition of the race, was tack-walked and then walked by trainer Diane Alvarado on Wednesday morning. She thinks the outcome of this year’s affair is tough to call.
“I was looking at the race again last night, and all I can say is that it’s wide open. My horse is training good and I hope all of the shipping lately didn’t take too much out of him.”
Stabled at Monmouth Park, the 7yo Eldaafer, who has made 40 starts, was sent to Chicago to run in the Hawthorne Gold Cup, then back to New Jersey, and then was shipped again to California.
“At this point, he ships and he runs. He knows what his job is, and he does it very well,” she said.
Alvarado said that she feels fortunate indeed to have escaped the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, and its devastating aftermath along the Jersey Shore, where Monmouth is located.
“I shipped all of my other horses to Ocala on Sunday morning right before Sandy hit, and was able to get Eldaafer on the last flight out of New York. I feel very, very lucky because I almost canceled the van taking the rest south. I was afraid that the van was going to drive right into the storm but was ultimately convinced that it would be ok. I am so glad that I stuck to my original plan.”
Fame And Glory – see European report
Jaycito – The 4yo Victory Gallop colt jogged Wednesday morning just two days ahead of his start in Friday’s Marathon.
Trainer Bob Baffert was asked if he thought Jaycito was up to the task of running and winning at 1 3/4m, a half-mile beyond any distance he’s tried before.
“Well, we’ll just have to see,” Baffert said. “He (owner Ahmed Zayat) thought the race wasn’t the strongest one ever and he thought he’d take a shot. So we’ll send him out there and see what happens.”
Sense of Purpose – see European report
Worth Repeating – Trainer Mike Machowsky, who already has found success with his claim of Worth Repeating over the summer at Hollywood Park, is hoping to take even a bigger step forward with the 6yo son of Giant’s Causeway in Friday’s Marathon.
The horse was claimed for $62,500 and has finished first, second and fourth for Machowsky. Perhaps his most impressive effort came when he was runner-up to the multiple graded stakes winner Richard’s Kid in Del Mar’s Cougar II Handicap in his first start for his new trainer.
“I think he fits in this race,” Machowsky said of the Marathon. “The farther the better.