In his last start, Eldaafer flashed the winning form that made him a Breeders' Cup champion while capturing the Grade 3 Greenwood Cup at Parx Racing on Sept. 2. The 2010 Breeders' Cup Marathon winner made the lead at the top of the stretch and prevailed in a prolonged duel by a nose in the $200,000 1 ½-mile Greenwood Cup.
“Other than his Breeders' Cup, I think that was his best race,” said trainer Diane Alvarado, who trains the 8-year-old gelding at Gulfstream Park. “Believe me, I was crying in the winner's circle. I was so proud of him.”
Eldaafer, who scored his Marathon victory at Churchill Downs, has run back in the 1 ¾-mile Breeders' Cup event at Churchill in 2011 (sixth) and Santa Anita last year (seventh). However, Alvarado is currently inclined to bypass the Marathon at Santa Anita this year and concentrate on the $350,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (G2) on Nov. 30.
“Everybody's pushing for the Breeders' Cup, but the owners said if I wanted to go to Hawthorne to just wait for Hawthorne,” said Alvarado. “They moved the race to Nov. 30 this year so a lot of the horses will go to the Breeders' Cup. We'll miss them, and it will be good for us. He ran really well in the Gold Cup last year.”
Eldaafer, who finished third at Hawthorne last year and who prepped for the Greenwood Cup with a second-place finish in the $50,000 Stymie Stakes at Delaware Park on July 11, has seemed to thrive while training at Gulfstream and shipping north.
“He's been shipping for how many years now? He's a pro. He loves it. He ships good. He doesn't miss an oat. I think he knows it's time to do his job,” Alvarado said. “He was training like a rock star (for the Greenwood Cup). He ran a big number at Delaware. I got him back down here and let him come back into himself. When he's right, he's good. When he wants to run, he runs.”
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