Of course I was talking about the Marathon.
Among all of the world-class horses competing in the
Classic, Distaff, Turf, Turf Mile, why on earth would I single out the Marathon
as my first choice? I must be in the minority. But think about it. 1 ¾ miles on
dirt, $500,000 purse, and a grade 2 status. Say what you want about all the
other races, but the Marathon is one of a kind. And there is no truer display
of the characteristics of a thoroughbred than grinding out 14 exhausting
furlongs on the premier stage of racing.
The only negative about this year’s edition is it will be
absent of three of the best dirt stayers of 2013: Richard’s Kid, Calidoscopio,
and Eldaafer. The two former horses have been unfortunately retired due to
injury, while Eldaafer is planning to skip the Marathon ending his streak of
entries at 4.
However, even without the three “old men” in the race, there
are still plenty of worthy contenders that may be able to make the statement
that they are the most long winded horse in the land. Lets take a look at a few
Ever Rider (Arg): Its not like we need any
reminder of Calidoscopio’s unbelievable come from behind victory in the
previous edition of the Marathon. This year’s only “Win and You’re In” winner
is another Argentinian bred looking to claim Breeders’ Cup glory. Ever Rider’s wire-to-wire
victory in the Classico General Belgrano was as gritty as they come, and just
like Calidoscopio last year, he will make his North American debut in the
Breeders’ Cup. He has been acclimating to the Southern California sunshine for
some time, where in his latest workout he fired a sharp 46 and change four furlong
bullet at Santa Anita.
Atigun: This will
be the second attempt in the Marathon after a well-earned show in last year’s
race. He has proven that he likes the longer races, but will need to find
better form than he has had of late. The Marathon will also be a move back to
dirt from his previous 5 races on the grass.
Here’s a horse that has proven to be pretty inconsistent this year, but comes
into the Marathon off a wire-to-wire win in the 9 furlong Ralph M. Hinds
Handicap. We’ll see if he will try to attempt to take this race all the way on
the lead, and we do know he loves the track at Santa Anita having only finished
off the board twice in 8 races, both as a 2 year old.
Indian Jones: The
6 year old gelding by Smarty Jones has been in incredible form lately finishing
off the board only once in his last 11 races. He also finished a very game 2nd
to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Eldaafer in the 12 furlong Greenwood Cup
Stakes at Parx. Watch for him running late down the stretch at the Great Race
London Bridge (GB): An
interesting potential entry as a three year old and a shipper from across the
pond in Europe. Showing great form this summer, he rattled off three straight
wins in 14 days over the distances of 10f, 10f, and 12f respectively. His task in
the Marathon wont be easy having not raced since August and having to try dirt
for the first time.
Suns Out Guns Out:
Showing fairly consistent form this year, Suns Out Guns Out will see if his
pedigree (Empire Maker – Angel Arch, by Smart Strike) can carry him to victory
in the Marathon. However, we already have an indication of his preference for
distance with his flat 4th place finish in the Greenwood Cup Stakes.
We’ll see how well his recent allowance optional claiming win will catapult him
in the Marathon.
Sky Kingdom: One
of the few horses in the race with a win at 12 furlongs on dirt, he will try
again to stretch his legs to victory at Santa Anita. Having last visit the
winner’s circle in the 12 furlong Tokyo City Cup (pictured above), we know he has the capability
to get the job done in the Marathon.
Take Control: Not
every horse out there can say they have Breeders’ Cup champions as their
parents. By A.P. Indy out of Azeri, Take Control has a true “million dollar
pedigree.” Perhaps coming back to racing in the Grade 1 Awesome Again off a 14-month
layoff was not the wisest of moves by trainer Bob Baffert. But if there is one
horse with the bloodlines to win a Breeders’ Cup race it’s Take Control.
Some of the other possible contenders are Percussion, Pool Play, and Worldly. Who
do you think has what it takes to get the job done this year?