Birdrun – Preston Stables’ son of Birdstone was out for a leisurely gallop Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Marathon.
“He’s kind of a barn favorite,” trainer Bill Mott said. “He’s one of the barn pets, and he’s a horse that’s displayed that he’s a real galloper. He’s never been a mile and three-quarters, but he’s been a mile and a half. He runs well on the dirt and should be some sort of factor in the Marathon.”
Birdrun won the Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park in June over stablemate Drosselmeyer and was moved up to first on a disqualification in the Greenwood Cup at Parx two starts back before finishing sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in his most recent start on a muddy track.
Cease – Trainer Al Stall Jr. reported all was well with Marathon contender Cease Tuesday morning after the 4yo gelded son of War Chant breezed 4f in 51 4/5 under exercise rider Scotty LeLeaux on Monday.
“He got everything he needed out of those two races in 15 days apart at Saratoga and that salty mile and a quarter race he had at Hawthorne (Gold Cup) last month,” Stall remarked.
“We just kind of gallop him around there, which is what he hopes to do on Saturday. We didn’t want to turn him on too much because he lays close and he gets a little aggressive. So he went out there by himself and he looked good today.
“He’ll gallop tomorrow, but I’m not sure what time yet. It all depends on how things work out with the other horses I have scheduled to train in the morning.”
Cease, who was bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, is a contender in the Marathon for the same connections that bred and campaigned 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame.
Eldaafer – The defending Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner arrived at Barn 33 around 9:30 p.m. Monday from his home base of Monmouth Park and was walking the shedrow Tuesday morning. Trainer Diane Alvarado said the 6yo son of A.P. Indy will go to the track around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday to jog 1m.
“He’ll stand out there for a while and then just stretch his legs,” she said. “I get on him myself. He has to go with the pony.”
Since winning the Marathon, Eldaafer counts an Aug. 6 allowance win at Delaware Park and a runner-up finish in the Governors Day Stakes at Delaware Park as the best of his seven starts this year.
“It’s exciting to be back; he’s a trooper, that’s for sure,” Alvarado said. “There’s a little bit more pressure because he won last year, but he’s doing good.”
Giant Oak – Two-time Grade 1 stakes winner Giant Oak arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday afternoon to prepare for his start in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Marathon after having completed his final major preparation on Saturday at Hawthorne Race Course with a 5f work in 1:00 1/5 that pleased his trainer Chris Block.
“It was a very good work,” said the Chicago-based conditioner who is due into Louisville on Wednesday. “He’s coming up to the race exactly how I’d want any horse to be coming up to a big race. I’ve been really pleased with how he’s been training since his last race (a fifth-place finish in the Hawthorne Gold Cup.)”
The 5yo son of champion Giant’s Causeway is the 9-2 third choice in the morning line and will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan. He drew post 5 in the 11-horse Marathon field, which was fine with Block.
“I’d be happy with any draw from 3 through 10,” Block said prior to the draw.